ISLAMABAD Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the mega project of Benazir Bhutto (New Islamabad) International Airport, Islamabad is underway that would be submitted on directions of the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (PAK-EPA), TheNation has learnt. Situated on a plot of land acquired by the PCAA (Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority) in the 1980s at Pind Ranjah near Fateh Jang (an additional 400 acres have been acquired to build the two runways), the New Islamabad International Airport will be 20-km from the centre of Islamabad, and 23-km from Rawalphindi. Though, the project was announced in January 2005 after a ten-year delay due to political changes in the country and construction began in April 2007, when funding became available. However, so far, the quarters concerned did not submit Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the mega project to the Federal Environment Agency (Pak-EPA) that is a mandatory requirement under Section 12 of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997. Keeping in view the need to make this project environment-friendly the Agency officials directed the authorities concerned to submit EIA of the project as soon as possible. It has been learnt from the officials close to the developments that the management of airport was in process of conducting EIA of the project that would be submitted to the PAK-EPA on September of this year. It is to be mentioned here that the new airport will eventually replace the loaded on Islamabad International Airport at Chaklala providing better access for the northern areas, north-west frontier province, federally administered tribal areas, Azad Jammu, Potohar and Kashmir. PCAA is the controlling body for the $400m (PKR37bn) project, which is likely to see the airport opening for operations in 2011-2012. Ground is being levelled for the terminal building and allied facilities. The airport will start operations by 2011 that will see car parking for 2,000 vehicles, a covered plaza area for 200 cars, a control tower, maintenance hangar, a 15-gate terminal with ten remote gates, 42 immigration counters, nine baggage claim carousels, 12 X-ray machines, and also office and administration facilities. There will also be a hotel, convention centre, duty-free shops, airside mall, business centre, food court, leisure facilities and banks at the new terminal. The airport will have a 180,000m modular terminal building which will initially be able to handle 9 million passengers a year. There will also be a cargo complex capable of handling 100,000t a year, four rapid-exit taxiways.