New map may pave way for proposed international airport at Dholera

Fresh maps of a new alignment for the proposed international airport at Dholera shows it does not fall within the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) area, a top official said, adding this may expedite the project's approval since the maps have been prepared by an agency authorised by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to demarcate the High Tide Line, an essential marker to determine the CRZ area.

The state government reportedly submitted this new map to the MoEF earlier this week.

"The fresh maps prepared by Anna University in Chennai, which is authorised by the Ministry for CRZ area demarcation, shows the new alignment of the airport does not fall within the CRZ area. This is likely to expedite the environment clearance process," said Hardik Shah, member-secretary of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB).

The Rs 2,500-crore proposed greenfield international airport is to spread over about 1,700 hectares in Dhandhuka taluka near the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) and will be about 129 kms south of Ahmedabad. It is expected to eventually wean away international air traffic from the Sardar Vallabhai Patel International airport in Ahmedabad.

The project, to be built on Public Private Partnership (PPP), has already been approved by aviation and defence authorities but has been stuck for more than two years because environment approval is pending.

The delay has caused its share of heartburn among state authorities because they feel the Navi Mumbai airport, which faced similar obstructions, has been allowed.

One of the main reasons for the delay were concerns about the Dholera airport project being located within the CRZ area, where developmental projects are not allowed to preserve coastal ecology.

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