Civil aviation ministry wants Maharashtra government to realign Bandra-Versova sea link and construct an under sea tunnel to facilitate the extension of Juhu airport runwway.
Juhu airport is used for helicopter operations and in view of congestion at Mumbai airport and delays in development of Navi Mumbai airport the civil aviation ministry is pushing for the expansion of Juhu airport. Plans include extending the 1140 metre main runway into sea by another 700 metre to allow movement of turbo prop planes. However the project faces many hurdles as the extended runway will affect the alignment of the proposed Bandra-Versova sea link.
It is learnt that the civil aviation ministry has written to the state government to realign the sea link with a tunnel under the Juhu beach. Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation proposes to build the sea link which will be built nearly a kilometre away from the beach front. Maharashtra chief secretary J K Banthia will meet civil aviation ministry officials on Friday to discuss the issue.
Maharashtra government had earlier expressed unwillingness to support the runway extension project because of the likely opposition from the local residents. Sources said the AAI is considering development of runway over the stilts so that the entire beach is not closed off to public. Also this will require increasing the heght of runway and will increase costs. Some experts feel that the runway extension will not be able to solve congestion issue at Mumbai
Currently, Juhu airport handles about hundred helicopter movements each day and has two runways. Last year AAI had proposed shutting down one of the two runways. Airport Authority of India officials proposed that one of two runways be shut for fixed wing aircraft and be used for taxiing purposes. However the plan was put was on hold following objections from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation's objections. ONGC alone has over 50 helicopter movements from Juhu to its offshore oil rigs.