NaMu Airport update

Cidco will start the Ulwe hill blasting work from tomorrow to pave way for the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport.The hill cutting and blasting operations will also involve diversion of Ulwe river's course. It will take about one week to prepare for the blasts. The work will start from the western side of the hill which is far from the villages that are situated in the core airport area.

The hill will be brought down to 8 m from its present highest point of around 90-92 m. Cidco will level the hill down to 5.5 m and the remaining 2.5 m will later be filled up by the strategic partner, GVK-led MIAL group. The blasting will involve developing three-tier steps of some 15-20 m. The rock face will be used to develop a flat area for drilling 10 m holes in which explosives will be placed.

The trial blasting will help Cidco study the intensity of the blasts and the quantity of rock debris that will be obtained to level the airport area. According to a rough estimate, 3.5 crore cubic metre of rock debris will be obtained after the blasting operations are done.

High-tech video cameras will capture the blasts for future reference in case similar projects are planned. The noise levels too will be monitored by a seismograph and kept within the permissible frequency limits with respect to settlements and habitats. Cidco engineering department, which will undertake the hill operations and a major part of phase I of the Rs.16,000 crore airport project, claimed that no other airport in India or elsewhere has had to cut hills as well as fill land. There are instances of sea being filled up to build an airport--in Hong Kong--but no airport project involved both the operations.

Blasting operations can continue in monsoon except during intense showers.

The entire operation will be monitored and guided by Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research.  The Jharkhand-based centre has been engaged with major infra projects across the country such as the Koyna dam, nuclear power plants and road infra works in hilly areas of Jammu and Kashmir.

Cidco had appointed Central Water and Power Research Station, Pune, a central government body , to study the level of the airport from mean sea level, rise in the water level and rainfall. The height of the airport will be almost double the high flood level pegged at 4.5 m.

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