New Delhi: After a year-long tussle between the civil aviation and environment ministries, the Navi Mumbai airport finally got the green signal today but with riders about resettlement of displaced people and development of mangroves around the site, reports PTI.
"Today, formally the environmental clearance has been given to the Navi Mumbai project. The provisions of building the airport will start from today," environment minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters here.
The announcement was made at a joint press meet with Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan as also civil aviation minister Praful Patel with whom Mr Ramesh had differences over the Rs8,722 crore project.
The clearance was given on the conditions that 678 hectares of mangroves will be developed in and around the project site, river Gadhi will not be diverted besides 30 other riders which have to be implemented to minimise environmental impacts.
However, a 90-meter high hillock will have to be removed to smoothen the approach to runway and the "tidally influenced waterbody: Ulwe will be recoursed. "A number of safeguards will have to be implemented to ensure that the environmental impact is kept to the minimum," Mr Ramesh said.
With the environment clearance in place, both Mr Chavan and Mr Patel said that bidding process for the development of the airport will be completed and contracts will be awarded within 8-12 months.
The chief minister said that 3,000 families will have to be relocated and expeditious steps were being taken to rehabilitate them.
The prime minister's office has been closely monitoring the progress in building the second airport as the existing Mumbai airport, where additional flights are now being restricted due to saturation, is likely to exhaust its capacity of handling 40 million passengers a year by 2013.
The Navi Mumbai international project will be developed through public-private-participation mode in which the private party will hold 74%, and state-owned City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) and Airports Authority of India (AAI) will have 13% stake each.
Terming the green clearance as an "extremely significant" step for Mumbai as well as the national economy Patel said, "We have been very concerned at the lack of capacity of the (existing) Mumbai airport and difficulties in expanding it."
While the chief minister said the Navi Mumbai airport project would be developed in four phases, the civil aviation minister urged him to consider developing it in two phases due to the urgency in creating new aviation infrastructure in the face of rapidly growing air traffic.
"I think phases I and II will have to be taken up together due to the capacity crunch at the Mumbai airport. The first phase should be completed by 2014-15 at the most...
One runway at the existing airport will be under daily repair from next year," Mr Patel said.
The proposed airport will have two parallel runways1.55 km apart, even though it was initially suggested that their separation length will be 1.8km. "There is no compromise on technical parameters. The runway separation is as per international requirements for safe and simultaneous operations", Mr Patel said.
The Maharashtra government will soon approach the environment ministry for forest clearance, with MR Ramesh saying it would be granted soon. The state will also move the Mumbai High Court on the issue of cutting mangroves.
Mr Chavan said the site was selected as the most suitable after studying 17 locations.
He said 436 hectares out of 1,160 hectares of land was to be acquired. The CIDCO was already in possession of 66% of the land needed for the airport project, while 12% more was in the possession of the state government.
Regarding the blasting of the hillock to clear up the approach glide-path of aircraft, Mr Ramesh said environmental clearance had already been given for quarrying activities which were on in full-swing.
"I have also asked the state government to set up a high-level advisory and monitoring committee to oversee the implementation of the environmental conditionalities at various stages," the environment minister said.
Non-essential facilities, like hotels and shopping malls, will be located in such areas to ensure development of a mangrove park in the vicinity of the airport.
The project, which had got Union Cabinet approval in 2007, saw the light of the day after hectic negotiations between the environment and civil aviation ministries after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed concern over the delay in the grant of green clearance.
The proposed site in Navi Mumbai is 20km from the main city and 35km from the existing Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.
It is expected to handle 10 million passengers in its first operational year, doubling it to 20 million in eight years. The aim is that the airport would have a handling capacity of 40 million passengers by 2030.
New Delhi: The Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles today said it expects electric two-wheeler market to witness 100% growth following a Rs95-crore incentive package for the remaining part of the 11th Plan, reports PTI.
As per a scheme approved by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), the government will provide financial incentive for each electric vehicle sold in India during the remaining part of the 11th Plan-2010-11 and 2011-12.
The scheme, effective from 11th November, envisages incentives of up to 20% on ex-factory prices of the vehicles, subject to a maximum limit.
The cap on the incentive will be Rs4,000 for low speed electric two-wheelers, Rs5,000 for high speed electric two-wheelers, Rs60,000 for seven-seater three-wheeler and Rs1 lakh for an electric car.
"This could have an immediate impact on sales of electric two-wheelers. In terms of monthly sales, we expect an immediate doubling of sales," Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles director Sohinder Gill told PTI.
Moreover, those electric vehicle makers who were getting frustrated, will now feel encouraged to grow the market further, he added.
"We have convened a meeting of our members in this week to see how quickly we can pass on the benefits to consumers.
Although these incentives are for the manufacturers to carry out R&D activities and to increase capacities, we will surely pass on partial benefits to the buyers," Gill said.
On an average, electric two-wheelers are priced between Rs25,000 and Rs40,000 depending on the speed range.
As per the notification by the MNRE, the government will take up "dissemination of two wheelers, three wheelers and four wheelers Battery Operates Vehicles (BOV) and R&D and technology demonstration and other activities in the area of Alternative Fuels for Surface Transportation at a total cost of Rs95 crore during the remaining period of the 11th Plan".
For this fiscal, the government will support 20,000 units and 10,000 units of low and high speed two-wheelers respectively, while it will be 80,000 units and 20,000 units in 2011-12.
The government has also decided to incentivise 100 units of three-wheelers and 140 units of passenger cars in the rest of this fiscal, while it will be 166 units and 700 units in the next financial year.
At present, the Indian electric two-wheeler market stands at about 85,000 units annually. Some of the leading electric two-wheeler manufacturers include Hero Electric, Avon Cycles, BSA Motors and Lohia Auto.
In the three-wheeler space, Lohia Auto and Mahindra & Mahindra are present. The four-wheeler market is minuscule with only one player-Mahindra Reva.
MNRE said the manufacturers will have to give at least one year comprehensive warranty, including for batteries, and minimum 30% of the components will have to be indigenous to avail the benefits.
Besides, the companies will have to set up at least 15 service centres across the country to ensure quality and services of the products.
The government will also take up "R&D and technology demonstration projects for various components including battery for 'hybrid electric vehicles', 'plug hybrid electric vehicles', battery operated vehicles and electric/exercise-bike-generator inverter and other such vehicles and their components and activities in this area".
Seeing the potential, some auto majors such as Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and General Motors are working on to introduce the electric vehicle technology in their existing models across different categories.
New Delhi: The steep hike in onion export prices has failed to improve the domestic market scenario as the vegetable continues to be expensive at a retail price of Rs35 a kg in Delhi, reports PTI.
Besides, onion continues to be expensive in the wholesale market, even after the agri-cooperative and onion export regulator NAFED hiked the commodity export price last week to $150 a tonne.
NAFED's decision to increase the minimum export price (MEP) from $375 a tonne to $525 a tonne for this month was necessitated by sharp increase in retail price of the vegetable at Rs40 a kg over a fortnight period.
The measure, the cooperative had hoped, would help bring down the onion price below Rs30 per kg.
However, trade sources inform that onion is being sold between Rs25-Rs30 a kg in wholesale market in Azadpur, which is Asia's biggest fruit and vegetables market. They add this has been the prevalent rate for the last 4-5 days.
Good quality onion at retail outlets in Delhi is available at Rs35 a kg while poor quality wet onions are being sold at Rs30 a kg.
The country has shipped 10.10 lakh tonnes of onion so far this fiscal, against 12.99 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period, the official data showed. India exports onions to Bangladesh, the West Asia, Singapore and Malaysia.
Prices of onion have risen because of supply crunch due to rain, triggered by cyclones in the South and heavy downpours in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, Onion Merchants Association Azadpur market president Rajendra Sharma told PTI.
Maharashtra ranks first in onion production with a share of 18%.
There is a shortfall in supply of 35%-40% at Azadpur market in Delhi, which has lifted the price, said Metharam Kriplani, president of Chamber of Azadpur Fruit and Vegetables.
"Export rush of onion for handsome profit has telling affect on its prices in domestic market," Mr Kriplani said.
But, the situation is showing some improvement with arrival of crop from Rajasthan, Mr Sharma said. Over 275 tempos of onion (each carrying about 8 tonne) arrived at Azadpur market today from Rajasthan to boost the supply, he added.
Meanwhile, NAFED has said it will be reviewing the export prices by month-end.