Paving the way for the long-pending expansion of Lohegaon Airport, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will finally get 15 acres of additional land on the eastern side of the airport. Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has agreed to the transfer of defence land to AAI on lease, which will be used for upgrading and expanding the civil airport, Union Minister for Road Transport and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, who held a meeting with local elected representatives and officials in Pune, said on Sunday.
Gadkari said the expansion should resolve the issues facing civil aviation in Pune for five-seven years. He emphasised this was not an alternative for building a new airport but only a “temporary” solution.
“To get rid of the impediments in the way of expansion of Lohegaon Airport to meet the growing needs of civil aviation in Pune, we held a meeting with Parrikar, Civil Aviation Minister Mahesh Sharma and AAI authorities on October 8. In this meeting, we convinced the defence authorities and the minister to hand over 15 acres to AAI for development and expansion of the airport. The land will be given on a token lease rent for 30 years,” Gadkari told mediapersons after a visit to the site along with elected representatives, officials and AAI authorities.
The minister said when developed, the additional infrastructure would increase the capacity of the airport by two-three times. “We are not stopping at 15 acres. We are trying to get four-five acres more. The capacity of the expanded airport will be two-three times more than the present capacity. AAI officials have been asked to submit a detailed project project… having an underground parking and a multistorey building for passenger amenities is a great idea from the point of view of space management,” said Gadkari.
On the issue of a new international airport, Gakdari, however, tossed the ball in the court of the state government though he stressed that work on the new airport would have to be taken up on a “war-footing”. “Proposed expansion of the present airport will be able to sustain passengers and civil air traffic for up to the next five-seven years. Therefore, it’s essential the state government take immediate action to establish a New Greenfield Airport in Pune. I am not aware where things stand now. I may call a meeting in this regard soon,” said Gadkari.The new airport will need 1,200 hectares.
The short tour of the site of proposed expansion was attended by Guardian Minister for Pune Girish Bapat, city MP Anil Shirole, MLAs Medha Kulkarni, Madhuri Misal, Jagdish Mulik, Mayor Dattatraya Dhankavade, Pune Collector Saurabh Rao and PMC Commissioner Kunal Kumar, among others.