The cabinet committee on infrastructure's clearance to big-ticket aviation projects, including the New Navi Mumbai airport, and plans to develop India as a civil aviation hub will help expedite the implementation of such projects, which are now caught up in challenges such as local opposition and land acquisition problems, say officials and experts.
On Wednesday Prime Minister Mamohan Singh announced new airport projects would be awarded at Navi Mumbai, Goa and Kannur. An airline hub policy would be finalised and hubs would be operationalised at Delhi and Chennai in 2012-13.
The Navi Mumbai and Goa airports are stuck due to opposition from local villagers and problems in acquisition of land. The Navi Mumbai airport, estimated to be developed at Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion), will be able to handle 40 million passengers on completion of all three phases by 2030.
The airport will also ease congestion at the Mumbai airport. But City and Industrial Development Corp of Maharashtra Ltd (Cidco), the project-planning authority, has not been able to begin the spade work due to opposition from several quarters.
State government officials feel the central clearance will help them fast-track implementation of the project.
"We have not yet received clearance from state forest department. Land acquisition is another problem and the local administration is yet to finalise compensation for the affected people. The local district collectorate issued notices for acquisition of land from one of the villages, but efforts to buy land met with strong opposition,'' said a state government official, who did not want to be named.
The request for qualification document (RFQ), which will enable the state government to short-list potential bidders to develop the airport, is yet to be finalised. "The steering committee headed by the civil aviation secretary had some issues regarding the document and it is being modified now,'' the official added.
The proposed airport at Mopa in North Goa, will also likely get increased government attention after the central clearance.
The present airport at Dabolim serves as a naval base and, although it is being upgraded with a new terminal, it can handle only 4.5 million passengers. The government has proposed the second airport which will cater to the air traffic needs till 2045.
"Its a positive decision. The focus is back on implementation. However what we require now is an implementation commission comprising senior bureaucrats, which will fast-track projects and ensure that all projects are completed in time,'' said Amber Dubey, partner and head of aviation at consultancy firm KPMG.
On Wednesday, the committee also announced work on Itanagar airport would be commenced by the Airport Authority of India. The total investment on the AAI projects will be Rs 2,100 crore (Rs 21 billion).
By July-end, additional public private partnership projects would be finalised for 10-12 existing airports and for 10-12 greenfield airports. These would be awarded during the year.