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Hunt for new airport land takes officials near old site

Additional chief secy says site is most suitable for the airport as land is flat and huge tracts are owned by individuals, which will cause minimal displacement.

Written by Nisha Nambiar | Pune | Updated: January 23, 2016 5:30:18 am
pune airport, airport, pune international airport, Airport Authority of India The proposed airport site led to delays due to opposition from farmers. Express file

THE SITE for the Pune international airport may well be around Rajgurunagar area in Khed taluka itself, with it being found as the most feasible site by the government after a survey conducted recently.

The land, which is being discussed is a little away from the old site at Rajgurunagar, which was cleared in 2008 for the proposed Pune international airport in the area.

With the project pending for a decade, Additional Chief Secretary PS Meena, who is in-charge of the civil aviation in the state on Friday, said that they are sure that the “land westward to the old site near Rajgurunagar is most suitable for the airport as the land is flat, with huge tracts owned by individuals, therefore leading to minimal displacement.’’

With the team of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and the Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) having done the recce for two other sites in the district, the government has asked the AAI to complete the survey for this site and check for any obstructions. “The area seems flat and suitable. There is enough space for the airport. Moreover, this is close to the previous site that was cleared by the government and if the area is given a go-ahead by the AAI, then the government can act on it soon,’’ said Meena, instilling hope that the project may finally take off.

While discussions have been on for sites at Jejuri in Purandar taluka and Chauphalla in Shirur as well, he said, a recce was done for these sites but they have found it very undulating and “not suitable for the airport”. The additional chief secretary said that they were keen for the land at Khed SEZ but since that did not work out, they checked for other sites in the district.

“An agency, which was given the task to conduct the survey, did not give a proper report. We appointed a new agency for the initial survey and they have given positive reports,’’ he added. The government is keenly waiting for the AAI report, which will look at hurdles, if any, within a fortnight, he said.

With the state government already facing a financial crunch, it is looking at a public-private partnership to set up the airport. “Once we have finalised the land, we can look at the model so that it won’t put a load on the state government,” he said.

Earlier, the said land was not considered due to land acquisition issues as it is irrigated land and was opposed by farmers.

The plan envisages construction of two six-km-long runways just like the ones at the existing Lohegaon airport.

The international airport was proposed to counter restrictions on civilian traffic at the city’s Lohegaon airport, which belongs to the Indian Air Force base.
While the first site near Chakan was interfering with the IAF operations, farmers opposed to the one near Rajgurunagar as it involved acquisition of agriculture land. The third site at Khed required Bharat Forge to part with their SEZ land.

The proposed airport project is being considered for long but because of non-availability of suitable land and opposition from farmers, the project has not taken off, stated district officials.

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