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Plan to develop states' aviation readied

October 06, 2005 13:36 IST
Favouring the centre-state cooperation model adopted by northeastern states to develop aviation infrastructure in the region, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel on Thursday asked state governments to tie up with public sector carriers to provide for intra-state and regional air connectivity across the country.

"While developing airports and airstrips across the country, the state governments must enter into joint ventures with public sector carriers like Indian Airlines or its subsidiary Alliance Air for ensuring greater connectivity within the state," he said.

He was speaking after Airports Authority of India and the Karnataka government signed an MoU in New Delhi to develop the Mysore Airport in the presence of Chief Minister Dharam Singh and Union Minister Oscar Fernandes.

"The airports being developed will not be commercially viable unless aircraft operate there," Patel said.

Maintaining that about Rs 10 to 15 crore (Rs 100 to 150 million) would be required annually to maintain one aircraft, he said the Northeastern model could be replicated in the state.

The North Eastern Council has met the expenditure for acquisition of four 50-seater ATR aircraft for operations in the region.

Asking Karnataka government to adopt the model for centre-state cooperation in aviation, Patel said he was also working on a similar model in Maharashtra.

The civil aviation minister said there were about 400 airstrips built in the country since the British days, but only about 60 of them were operational. While many of these strips would have to be operationalised, new ones would also have to be created.

In this context, he said development of airports at Hassan and Gulbarga would be "taken up in the next few months", while work has already begun at Mangalore to develop an international airport.

The Karnataka Chief Minister, while complimenting Patel for the pro-active approach towards helping the state in developing aviation infrastructure, asked the Centre to expeditiously clear the Bangalore Metro Rail project.

He said several infrastructure projects were on the anvil in Karnataka as the coalition government in the state was "result-oriented".

Karnataka Finance and Infrastructure Minister P G R Sindhia said the work on Devanahalli greenfield airport had started in a "big way" while upgradation of Hubli and Belgaum airports were in the process.

The MoU, signed by AAI chairman K Ramalingam and state principal secretary (Infrastructure) Vinay Kumar, provides for development of Mysore Airport for 50 or 60-seater ATR-42 operations, with the entire cost of about Rs 85 crore (Rs 850 million) being borne by the AAI.

The project would be completed in two years from the day the land was handed over by the state government. The original airport at Mysore has not been operational for several years due to economic unviability.

About 175 acres of additional land is required to build a new runway and expand the terminal building to enable ATR operations.

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