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Taj International Airport hub yet to take off

Virendra Singh Rawat  |  New Delhi/ Lucknow 

The proposed greenfield airport hub near the national capital is yet to take off. The reason behind the delay, as put by the Uttar Pradesh government, is the Centre's laxity in clearing the project and delaying its approval.
The Rs 3,500 crore Taj International Airport Hub is to be built at Jewar in Gautam Buddha Nagar district of UP. Once built, the hub is being touted as only of its kind in India offering world-class facilities.
While, things have started moving positively for the Rs 30,000 crore Ballia-Greater Noida Expressway mooted by the Mayawati government after it came to power last year. But the airport hub proposed way back in 2001, is yet to see the light of the day.
Archana Agarwal, Secretary, UP Infrastructure and Industrial Development Department told Business Standard that the final nod from the central government is still awaited before the bidding process could be initiated.
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) funded mega project is estimated to entail acquisition of over 1,500 hectares of land in Jewar.
It would be developed as an aviation hub with two runways to start with and offering cargo and transit facilities for international connecting flights. Besides, the periphery would be developed as major commercial, residential, shopping and recreational spots as part of the project.
The Ballia-Greater Noida Expressway is further expected to give prominence to the airport hub. The Expressway project has already been awarded to the JP Group after a tough bidding process by the state government.
The techno-feasibility study of the airport hub has been completed and submitted to the Centre. The state government has already sent a representation to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry to convene a Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting to clear the project.
"We want the Union cabinet secretary to chair the meeting with representatives from the state government on board, so that the mega project can finally take off," Agarwal said adding the aviation sector is growing by over 21 per cent and the proposed hub would give a boost to the economy in the region.
The main hurdle the airport faces is the norm under which an airport cannot be developed within 150 kms of an existing one and the proposed aviation hub would rival Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.
However, the Centre has relaxed this norm in the case of Mumbai, where another airport is proposed in Navi Mumbai to decongest the skies of India's financial capital.
Besides, another airport near the National Capital Region (NCR) has become a necessity to ease congestion at the IGI Airport and to facilitate faster growth in the sector.
Initially, the new airport was planned to be completed by 2010 to coincide with the hosting of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. However, the project may not keep pace as it is yet to take off.
Agarwal informed that once approved, a tough bidding process would be followed to select the company to develop the greenfield airport hub.
Interestingly, the project received the stamp of approval from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in 2003, when Mayawati government was at the helm. Now that BSP is back in power.
The Taj International Airport Hub is estimated to handle almost 4 million passengers annually.

First Published: Wed, April 09 2008. 00:00 IST