In the wake of the ongoing development of Navi Mumbai International Airport, the work of flattening out a 92m tall hill to 8m is underway. The hill is being evened out to pave way for a runway, which is also going to be the core area of the project.
In order to annihilate the height of the hill, the natural formation is being blasted everyday during afternoon and evening. But, CIDCO has decided to blast during the morning time too. The work that kicked off in the month of July, has been postponed due to the monsoon that lasted till October, followed by protests carried out by project-affected people. Apparently, blasting will speed up the process of hill-cutting.
The hill will be blasted thrice a day in the upcoming weeks between 7 am to 8 am. Earlier, it was between 1 pm to 2 pm and 5 pm to 6 pm. The total time that will take to level the hill will be 2 years.
“The blasting is largely on the southern side of the airport in the first phase. This is where one of the runways will be built along the taxiway. Also, a part of the terminal building, hangars and infrastructure needed for take-off will come up here,” said superintending engineer Sanjay Dahedar, who is responsible for supervising the pre-development work.
Earlier, CIDCO was considering another option, i.e., by reclaiming an island in the sea near Panvel Creek, when villagers refusing to allow the authority carry out the hill cutting process. Even in Hong Kong and Singapore, airports have been developed on land reclaimed from the sea. But villagers gave their go-ahead to CIDCO for continuing with the process. “This may be the first time that an entire hill is being razed to build an international airport,” said an official.
“Rules do not allow blasting before sunrise and after sunset,” Dahedar stated.
“The rocky material obtained from the blasting will be used to raise the level of the land around the hill to 5.5m. Thereafter, the operator will raise it by another 2.5m to level it with the hill,” he added.