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Hurry up with global airport or lose new flights: Minister

Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel is exasperated over the state government’s lackadaisical approach to the development of Rajguru International Airport. Having set a deadline for 2010-11...

Written by Nisha Nambiar | Pune |
February 6, 2009 12:26:31 am

Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel is exasperated over the state government’s lackadaisical approach to the development of Rajguru International Airport. Having set a deadline for 2010-11,Patel told Newsline on Thursday that he has sought a progress report from the state government.

“If the deadline cannot be met,the Centre will not support more flights to Pune. I’m hugely disappointed with the state government.”

It’s been almost two years after land acquisition proceedings were notified and 10 months since the Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation (MADC) was set up for the development of the international airport for Pune,but there has been negligible progress.

The decision to go for a new airport was arrived at after many rounds of debates involving the stakeholders of the city.

“I will demand a progress report on the development of the airport from the MADC and will also hold a meeting with state government officers soon,” the minister said.

The MADC,which was appointed as the nodal agency for acquisition and development of the airport in April,is yet to seek funds from the government for land acquisition. It has also failed to hold conclusive talks with villagers opposed to the acquisition process.

Though the MADC is to take off from where Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) left the project,there are still questions whether there is a need to re-notify the land to be acquired.

The demands from farmers who irrigated the land that they be kept out from the acquisition process are yet to be discussed at a higher level.

Meanwhile,a senior officer of the MADC admitted that with elections just round the corner,there is bound to be further delay. Technical issues that are yet to be ironed out include the MIDC Act which does not permit transfer of documents.

With the MADC coming into the picture,the documents will have to be re-notified under the Land Acquisition Act 1896 as per rules,resulting in additional cost.

“It will lead to additional expenditure of Rs 600 crore. With the present cost estimate of the entire project of the notified 2,565 hectares pegged at Rs 5,000 crore,the land acquisition cost alone will come to Rs 1,100 crore,” the MADC officer said.

The Pune District Collector has already conducted three rounds of talks with farmers in Chakan. Among the issues to be taken up in these talks are fresh discussions between farmers and the MADC on the cash component that needs to be worked into the land acquisition process.

“We want the entire process to have active participation of the land owners. Once that is over,the rest can be completed in 18 months,” he said.

Meanwhile,MIDC officers who were earlier involved in the land acquisition now say that they have no role to play. “If they want any help we are more than willing,but they have not approached us,” said a senior MIDC officer.

Land from seven villages are up for acquisition for the international airport — Chandoos,Shiroli,Waki Budruk,Koregaon Budruk,Kiwle,Pimpri Thakur and Wadgaon.

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