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Centre grounds Maya's airport hub plan

July 17, 2008 01:32 IST

The Centre has put the proposed Rs 3,500-crore global airport hub at Noida in Uttar Pradesh into cold storage and the ambitious project would not be able to keep its date with the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

The matter is pending approval from the Union Cabinet since long even as the government has allowed development of a greenfield airport within the 150-km radius of an existing one on a case-to-case basis.

"However, this relaxation does not apply in this case as the matter was already before the Union Cabinet and not the Director General of Civil Aviation," UP Chief Secretary and Industrial Development Commissioner Atul Kumar Gupta told Business Standard.

"Despite our repeated efforts and representations, the issue has 'effectively' been put in the cold storage," he said.

Proposed in 2001, the Taj International Airport hub is to be built over 1,500 hectares at Jewar in Gautam Buddha Nagar district by a public-private partnership and will rival Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport.

The hub, estimated to handle 4 million passengers annually, would be the only of its kind in India and offer world-class facilities and amenities to passengers and airlines.

The state had requested the Centre to convene a Cabinet secretary-level meet to clear any doubts about the proposed project. However, the Centre was yet to respond or seek further clarifications, said Archana Agarwal, secretary, UP Infrastructure and Industrial Development Department.

"It is not possible to finish the project before the Commonwealth Games since it would first entail a time-consuming competitive bidding process before the work can start," Gupta added.

Interestingly, though the bidding document is ready, the state government is not sure when the project, which will take at least 18 months to complete, will take off. "The state wanted to contribute to the Commonwealth Games since the arrival of tourists will peak then," Agarwal said.

Initially, the hub will have two runways and will offer cargo and transit facilities for international connecting flights. The periphery of the airport would be developed as a major commercial, residential, shopping and recreational centre as part of the project.

The techno-feasibility study of the project has been completed and submitted to the Centre. The necessity for another airport near the National Capital Region has emerged following the congestion at IGI Airport.

The project received approval from the Airports Authority of India in 2003, when Mayawati was the chief minister.

Now, Mayawati regime is again in power and things are not moving the way state government wishes them to.

Virendra Singh Rawat in Lucknow