An international airport,being developed by two states,waits for a name

Punjab,Haryana build project together but keep arguing over what it should be called.

Written by Chitleen K Sethi | Chandigarh | Published: September 6, 2013 12:32 am

Punjab,Haryana build project together but keep arguing over what it should be called.

It is an international airport being developed by two states in partnership with the Centre,an extension of the existing domestic airport in their common capital,but its name hasn’t yet been settled in the five years since they signed the agreement.

Nearly a dozen names have been proposed over the years but each has run into opposition from either Punjab or Haryana,if not both. The debate was rekindled recently after Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh proposed a name he hoped would be acceptable to both,but Punjab has since suggested an alternative that Haryana has instantly rejected.

The airport is under construction on 306 acres in Jheorehri village of Mohali,adjacent to Chandigarh city. The Chandigarh domestic airport will lend its runway space to the international airport. Punjab insists on including Mohali in the name and Haryana on keeping it out. Mohali is part of Punjab.

“As far as Haryana is concerned there is no controversy over the name. Since it is a joint venture of Punjab and Haryana,only ‘Chandigarh’ is acceptable,” says S S Dhillon,principal secretary to the Haryana Chief Minister.

“Haryana became only a stakeholder in the project. It merely paid for the acquisition of our land. That does not give it any right over what to name the project,” counters Sukhbir Singh Badal,deputy chief minister of Punjab.

Planned initially as “Mohali International Airport”,the project was to be a joint venture between Punjab and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. However,on January 4,2008,just before Punjab was to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Airports Authority of India,Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda demanded that Haryana be included as a stakeholder. On the initiative of then civil aviation minister Praful Patel,Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal concurred and last-minute changes were made to the MoU to include Haryana. But neither side had had the final word. Punjab kept insisting the name be changed eventually to “Mohali International Airport”,while Haryana has insisted it be called “Chandigarh International Airport”.

In March 2008,the Punjab assembly passed a resolution to name the airport “Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport”. Haryana agreed but wanted “Chandigarh” added while Punjab wanted to suffix it with “Mohali”.

The debate resumed after the union cabinet took up the name in June 2011. It discussed “Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport Chandigarh” as a possibility and sought the opinion of both states. Punjab replied it should be called “Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport Mohali”. In early 2012,Haryana wrote to the Centre with the suggestion “Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Chandigarh”.

In May 2012,the Centre approved “Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport” but the suffix,if any,remained undecided. When Ajit Singh recently proposed “Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Mohali-Chandigarh”,Punjab responded with “Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Chandigarh at Mohali”.

“Why should there be the word Mohali at all? The airport just happens to be there,” says a close aide to the Haryana CM. Hooda has been saying at various public forums that only “Chandigarh” is acceptable.

From Punjab,Sukhbir Badal insists,“Mohali is where the project is located and that word will be in the name.” And Gaganjit Brar,principal secretary to the Punjab chief minister,adds,“How can something located physically in Mohali be called Chandigarh?”

ALL THE NAMES

* Mohali International Airport: The original plan,when it was meant to be a joint venture between the Centre and Punjab

* International Airport,Chandigarh: According to MoU signed in 2008 among the Centre and the two states

* Mohali International Airport: Punjab’s demand after MoU

* Chandigarh International Airport: Haryana’s demand then

* Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport: Punjab assembly resolution in 2008; Haryana agrees but suffix remains debated

* Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport Chandigarh: Centre’s proposal in June 2011

* Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport Mohali: Punjab’s response

* Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Chandigarh: Haryana to Centre,early 2012

* Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport: Central approval; suffix undecided

* Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Mohali-Chandigarh: Proposal by aviation minister Ajit Singh

* Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Chandigarh at Mohali: Punjab’s latest,which has sent Haryana back on the warpath

The project

*306 acres in Jheorehri village of Mohali; an extension of the existing Chandigarh domestic airport

*24.5% share Punjab and Haryana each,rest AAI

*30% construction done,by L&T,contracted by Chandigarh Airport India Limited

*Foundation stone yet to be laid in the absence of a name

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