The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation on Saturday approved the Jewar Airport project in Greater Noida which on realisation shall become the second airport in the National Capital Region (NCR) after Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI). Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said at a press briefing in New Delhi that “in-principle clearance has been granted” for the airport.
“Noida International Airport will cater to 30-50 million passengers per year over the next 10-15 years,” tweeted the minister.
The approval has come after a series of loggerheads that the project faced for about a decade primarily because of differences between the Centre and state governments. The previous regime in Uttar Pradesh under Akhilesh Yadav had issues about the location of the upcoming international airport.
The Samajwadi Party favoured Firozabad or Agra to be the site of the airport whereas the government at the Centre has been arguing for the airport to be in close proximity to New Delhi, in a bid to divert the air traffic from IGI.
The idea of an airport in Western UP was first conceived in 2001 by the then CM Rajnath Singh. However, the formal proposal from the state government was forwarded by BSP supremo Mayawati who succeeded Singh as the chief minister in 2002. In what appeared to be a major impediment for the project, Samajwadi Party’s rise to power in 2003 and the subsequent demand it raised for the airport to be set up in Agra caused the project to be virtually stall for four years.
In 2007, however, Mayawati after her return as chief minister revived the Jewar project. It was proposed along with the Yamuna Expressway and named the ‘Taj International Aviation Hub.’
The hurdle was that it would fall within a 150 km radius of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, thus contradicting an agreement signed with GMR-led consortium which ran the Delhi airport. In 2011, RLD chief Ajit Singh became civil aviation minister and according to sources, he wanted the international airport to be constructed in his constituency Meerut.
But now, with BJP ruling both the state and the Centre, circumstances became feasible for the approval of the airport project. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had expressed an interest in reviving the project during a review meeting of the Uttar Pradesh Infrastructure and Industrial Development Department following which the state government sent a fresh reminder to Raju, promising full cooperation.
The airport is scheduled to be operational in five-six years.