The site of Mumbai’s future airport is a mess of crocodile-filled swampland, jungle and the odd river. It is a daunting landscape even by Indian standards, requiring a leap of imagination to see an international airport ever rising out of it.
But Mumbai desperately needs a new airport. The current one is operating at full capacity and it is impossible to expand it any further. The Maharashtra state government forecasts air traffic will increase to a staggering 100m passengers in 2035 from 35m passengers last year. The latest estimate of the project’s cost, from the civil aviation ministry, is Rs167bn ($2.5bn).
“Mumbai is the most constrained airport in the world,” says Bhushan Gagrani, who was appointed head of the City and Industrial Development Corp of Maharashtra last year. “Another airport is a given.”