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Kushinagar international airport to get ready for take-off

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The proposed international airport at the Buddhist-tourist destination of Kushingar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, which has been waiting in the wings for the past several years, is readying itself for another take-off.

The much-awaited airport to be built on public-private partnership (PPP) model and estimated to cost Rs 354 crore, would witness another round of bidding next month.

The previous bidding process in 2010, during the regime had come to a nought due to rather stringent conditions set for the proposed airport.

Earlier, the state government had envisaged developing an aviation hub at Kushinagar and the total project cost was pegged at Rs 850 crore. Besides, the bidders were required to have an experience of running an international airport in India.

As such, the bidding process did not move beyond the Request for Qualification (RFQ) stage, although four reputed infrastructure companies, such as GMR, GVK, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Gammon India were in the fray.

After the government tweaked the bidding conditions and decided for a plain-vanilla airport proposed to cost Rs 354 crore, the bidding process has been undertaken afresh.

Besides, it would be the country’s first airport, where the Centre had given in-principle approval for viability gap funding (VGF) of 20 per cent. Additional 20 per cent grant has also been committed from the state government.

Hence, the total permissible VGF grant is 40 per cent of the project cost, which comes to about Rs 170 crore.

An old airstrip spanning 97 acres is already present in Kushingar, which handles small aircrafts.

Now, the government is aiming to develop a runway of about 3,200 metres, so that it could even handle Boeing 747 flights from Saudi Arabia, Korea and Japan and cater the entire region spread across UP, Bihar and Nepal.

Once developed, it would be the biggest airport in the entire region, bigger even than the existing airports at Varanasi, Patna and Bodh Gaya, sources told Business Standard.

The state government has already acquired all the land required for the Kushinagar airport, which would span 550 acres.

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