The Airports Authority of India (AAI), which is developing several airports in Uttar Pradesh, has urged the Adityanath government to remove roadblocks, which are hampering a smooth takeoff of these projects.
AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra on Friday held a meeting with UP chief secretary Anup Chandra Pandey to review progress and apprise the state government of issues being faced by the authority in the completion of these priority airstrips.
Currently, AAI is developing or upgrading airports in Ayodhya, Agra, Bareilly, Chitrakoot, Jhansi, Kanpur, Kushinagar, Meerut, etc even as the Adityanath government has espoused the central government theme of facilitating cheaper air travel to people.
Pandey has directed officials to resolve roadblocks coming in the way of these projects, so that they meet their deadlines. For example, the Kanpur airport project is still awaiting a no objection certificate (NoC) from the state fire department.
AAI is seeking stamp duty exemption for the proposed Kushinagar airport, which would cater to the world famous Buddhist Tourism Circuit comprising parts of Eastern UP and adjoining places in Bihar and even Nepal. Pending issues at other airports pertain to water and power supply, land acquisition/availability etc, according to a state government press communique.
Meanwhile, the chief secretary has directed officials to resolve land acquisition issues being faced by two major airport projects in Lucknow and Kanpur at the earliest. He also issued directives to officials for arranging the required land for the prospective extension of the Varanasi airport runway by the AAI and to provide a net metering facility to the Authority for its solar power plant in the terminal.
Earlier, the Adityanath government had put the Ayodhya and Kushinagar airport projects on the fast lane to boost religious tourism in the state. While, the state had in February 2019 approved proposed investment of Rs 640 crore for Ayodhya airport, the state government in March 2019 signed an MoU with the AAI for developing the Kushinagar airstrip into a full fledged airport to handle wide bodied aircraft.
The state cabinet has already approved the permanent transfer of land and other infrastructure of Kushinagar airstrip to the AAI. Kushinagar, situated 50km from Adityanath’s pocket borough of Gorakhpur, is home to Buddhist monuments.
The airport was selected for development under the central regional connectivity scheme (RCS) or ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik’ (UDAN) III. Kushinagar has an existing airstrip spanning 97 acres to handle small aircraft.
Under successive regimes, UP had planned to develop the Kushinagar airstrip into an international airport and preliminary bidding was also conducted. However, the plan could not take off due to the prevailing economic and market conditions in the domestic infrastructure sector. Now, AAI has taken over the project.