In a flip flop, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma today said the government has taken a decision to set up a second airport in the national capital region.
The remarks are in stark contrast to his written reply to Rajya Sabha on July 21 that the Civil Aviation Ministry has not cleared any proposal to set up a second airport in NCR.
Sharma, who is the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, said the government has taken a decision for having a second airport in the region during a meeting last month.
The decision was taken at a meeting, held on June 26, which was attended by senior officials, Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman, Air India chairman and Civil Aviation Secretary, among others, he said.
"It was decided by the government on June 26 that another airport has to be set up in the national capital region in the future as Delhi airport would be choked by that time.
"On July 6, a meeting in this regard was held with the Civil Aviation Minister (Ashok Gajapathi Raju) and on July 10, an in principle decision in this regard was taken for setting up another airport in NCR," Sharma said.
There is a proposal for an airport at Bhiwadi (Rajasthan) on Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor. For site clearance, the proposal has been sent to the Ministry, he told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.
When asked about the apparent contradiction in the written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Sharma suggested that the response was given much before a decision for second airport was taken during the meeting last month.
"I had replied in a written answer and the (Parliament) question for written answer comes a month in advance...," he said.
Replying to a query about setting up an airport in Jewar (Uttar Pradesh), the Minister today said that due to various reasons the matter did not reach a logical conclusion earlier.
"We are writing to Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi that based on land availability an airport could be set up. From wherever proposal comes, we will consider those actively," Sharma said.
On June 26 too, Sharma had said the Ministry has cleared a proposal for a second airport in NCR to ease burden on the Indira Gandhi International Airport here.
However, there have not been clarity about the matter especially after Raju had refused to confirm such a move.
Reminded about Sharma's announcement that the proposal has been cleared by the Ministry and would soon be taken to the Cabinet, Raju had only said, "Please ask Mr Sharma... Anybody can give suggestion, anybody can write (to the Ministry)".
"I don't even know whether it (proposal for a new airport) should go to the Cabinet," Raju had said.