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Kolkata airport to get a Rs 2000 cr makeover

May 26, 2008 18:54 IST
Days after exchange of words between the Planning Commission and the Civil Aviation Ministry, the process of Kolkata airport modernisation is all set to start with the Public Investment Board meeting in New Delhi later this week to give its nod to the Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) project .

The work on Chennai airport is still to be cleared at the pre-PIB level to iron out differences in approach, if any, which concerned ministries may have on the project.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI), which would undertake modernisation work at both airports, has already approved consultants for the Kolkata project which include Aeroport du Paris Internationale and RMJM of Hong Kong.

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had recently blamed Planning Commission for delaying the projects at the two major metros.

This was followed by stinging criticism of the plan body by the Parliamentary Standing Committee with its Chairman Sitaram Yechury shooting off a letter to the Prime Minister alleging that "certain arms" of your government were "deliberately delaying the process in order to privatise the modernisation of airports through the backdoor."

The PIB, which would be meeting on Kolkata airport in the next few days, grants clearances to all projects above Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million) to be undertaken by public sector undertakings. After a project gets PIB clearance, it goes to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for final approval.

The Kolkata airport modernisation work includes extension of the second runway, construction of rapid exit taxiways and aprons, upgradation of air traffic management and communication, navigation and surveillance systems and a brand new integrated terminal building to cater to 20 million passengers.

The Civil Aviation Ministry had in August last year approved the detailed project report furnished by the AAI. The Rs 1942.51 crore (Rs 19.42 billion) Kolkata project was approved by the Prime Minister's Committee on Infrastructure in April last year.

The development of Chennai airport is estimated to cost Rs 1,808 crore (Rs 18.08 billion). Consultations have been held between the Ministry and the Tamil Nadu government for acquisition of 1,070 acres of land and hand it over to the AAI free of cost to carry out expansion and modernisation of the airport, keeping in mind the city's needs over the next two decades.

Acknowledging Yechury's charge that there had been delays in modernising Kolkata and Chennai airports, the Civil Aviation Minister had recently said the process of shortlisting of construction firms and other related activities was already on.

"It is an overlapping process," Patel said, adding that the Kolkata airport terminals would be "managed and maintained by the AAI. It is only the allocated commercial space which would be run by private parties."

The Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, headed by Yechury, has also come down heavily on the Planning Commission for delays in modernisation of non-metro airports as also those in Kolkata and Chennai.

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