After six years and survey of eight sites by the Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC),Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the district administration for the Pune international airport,the final site is yet to be decided.
Last month,the Pune Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh suggested a site on the eastern side of the Khed SEZ,a plain land which is now has been taken up for pre-feasibilit study by MADC. The study will be ready in a month and it will be followed by the AAI survey.
In contrast,the site for Navi Mumbai aiport was finalised in three years. The MADC officials said the first site was surveyed in 2008 at Chakan,next to the Bhama river.
This was dropped due to opposition from the land owners and also by the IAF as it was within 60 nautical miles area. After this,the company was shown the site close to the old site on the northern side of Bhama river in 2009. But it was opposed by villagers. The land was also undulating and on the high flood zone.
In 2010,the district administration showed the MADC a site on the south side of the Bhama river. An AAI survey rejected the site after it found mountains in the approach funnel. However,the chief minister wanted the MADC to decide between the second and the third site. But no site was finalised till 2011. Last year,the AAI and MADC worked out another option according to which the aqua length was set at 3,200 metres. But for Pune traffic,it should have been 4,000 metres. We came to an option that only one runway which will be operated till 2025 and later on a parallel runway will be built. This too did not go ahead, officials said.
Last year,the divisional commissioner suggested MIDC land at the Khed SEZ. The MADC conducted a pre-feasibility study with AAI and submitted the report to the chief minister. The report mentioned that only 3 km of plain land is available for the runaway while the remaining land needs to be acquired and filled. This was a low-lying area which would cost around Rs 500 crore for filling up and levelling the land. Moreover the owners of the Khed SEZ were not keen, said the official.
Last month,the chief minister said the runway should be on the south side of the SEZ and that the land acquisition should be initiated. The AAI had submitted the report to the chief secretary that the runway operation will have to be staggered operation. The chief minister refused to minimise the width of the runway from 1,035 metres to 760 metres. This has not been approved by AAI. Finally earlier this month,the eighth site on the eastern side has been suggested to the MADC, an official said.