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Airport at Ankleshwar feasible: E&Y report

Meghdoot Sharon  |  Ahmedabad 

With Dahej being developed as a special economic zone and the presence of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the region, it will be feasible to set up an airstrip at Ankleshwar in Bharuch district, says the Aviation masterplan for Gujarat state report compiled by Ernst & Young (E&Y) for the
Nine years back the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) had initiated steps to develop an airport at Ankleshwar. As the project couldn't gather momentum, the government had recently asked GIDB to take action on the plan. Ankleshwar situates in the middle of the industrialised belt between Vadodara in central Gujarat and Vapi in south Gujarat.
It has become a centre for manufacturing facilities of pharmaceutical companies, textile houses, machinery manufacturing tools, chemical and dyes units and the like.
The report says air services from Ankleshleshwar would be "viable with land development within identified area" and that besides having "key urban nodes, there is the existence of the traffic driver, which is the industry".
Preliminary findings of the E&Y study have shown that the estimated cost of the project could be around Rs 16 crore.
The distance between Ankleshwar and Mumbai is around 350 km and the ticket cost of an 18-seater aircraft could be around Rs 4,830 and the cost of a ticket in a 40-seater aircraft at around Rs 3,260.
According to the E&Y report, there is a likelihood of at least 40 persons travelling between Ankleshwar and Mumbai per day by flight.
The report recommends commissioning of a detailed feasibility study for the Ankleshwar airstrip, securing preliminary clearance from the ministry of civil aviation, preparation of a project for private participation and initiating discussions with airline operators.
Kamlesh Udani, executive director of Bharuch-based pharmaceutical major J B Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, said, "It has been a long standing demand for an airstrip at Ankleshwar. There are no problems of adequate passengers from the region for flights to Mumbai."
Interestingly, in 1995 it was the was the first to put forward the proposal to the government. Udani, who was also the president of AIA in 1995, said, "The GIDC even agreed to construct the airstrip and terminal, but the project has now been referred to the GIDB."
The report is aimed at a 10-year inter and intra state air traffic forecasting, reviewing of capacity and quality of existing aviation infrastructure, assessment of state infrastructure rehabilitation and arriving at a broad feasibility assessment of the proposed development investments.
The report will also serve as a reference for preparation of the state aviation master plan, incorporating a shelf of projects for the next 10 years.
The E&Y report also reviews the applicable regulatory framework and suggestion of potential means of state intervention within this framework and has made suggestions on funding options, including private sector participation for realisation of the master plan.

First Published: Thu, December 09 2004. 00:00 IST