Azamgarh is likely to become the fourth city in Purvanchal region of the state to find a place on the air map. The move will benefit many people from Azamgarh and nearby areas who go to Gulf countries for a better livelihood,officials said.
Apart from Azamgarh,the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has chosen eight other cities in Uttar Pradesh as part of its overall plan to develop at least 50 new low-cost airports across the country in 2013-14.
Allahabad,Varanasi and Gorakhpur are the three cities in the Purvanchal region that already have active airports.
In Allahabad,the AAI has already begun work on providing a civilian enclave at Bamrauli airport,which is under the control of the Indian Air Force. However,some issues related to land acquisition are threatening to put a spanner in the project here.
Apart from Azamgarh and Allahabad,all the other seven low-cost airports will be developed in the western region of the state. These cities are: Agra,Aligarh,Saharanpur,Muzaffarnagar,Bijnor,Meerut and Moradabad.
The development of low-cost airports was part of the 2013-14 infrastructure targets for various sectors,including aviation,set during a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister. According to a statement issued by the Prime Ministers Office last week in New Delhi,the AAI would work towards setting up of 50 new low-cost airports (including nine in UP) across the country. These airports are likely to be developed using the public private partnership model.
Azamgarh district officials said that while there has been a demand for an airport,the news has come as a pleasant surprise to them.
Commissioner (Azamgarh Division) Shahabuddin Mohammad said: An airport exists on Faizabad road,but it is used rarely,either for emergency or VIP landings. I am not aware of any recent activity of the AAI in this regard. But the plan would definitely be welcome. The airstrip is located at Maduri on the Azamgarh-Faizabad Road.
Chief Development Officer (Azamgarh) Akhilesh Mishra said: The local population has been demanding an airport here over the last few years. We were expecting that the authorities concerned would pay heed to the same. But we are yet to officially hear from the AAI.
The official said that a sizeable number of people go to the Gulf countries in search of better livelihood and they want better air connectivity. Nearly 20 to 30 per cent of the passenger traffic at Varanasi airport,as also the Lucknow airport,is fed by Azamgarh. This largely comprises people destined for the Gulf countries.
Lucknow has more flights than Varanasi. But it takes nearly six to seven hours for people from here to reach the state capital. On the other hand,the rail connectivity with New Delhi too is not very good. There is only one train from here that directly goes to Delhi, Mishra said.