On November 29, the Swiss company Zurich International Airport AG won the bid for a new airport in Jewar in Greater Noida, near Delhi. The airport is being planned as India’s largest, with a proposed six to eight runways once it is fully operational.
What is the need for an Airport at Jewar?
The Jewar Airport primarily aims to reduce the load on Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport. It will be the third airport in the National Capital Region, after IGI Airport and the newly opened Hindon Airport (in Ghaziabad). Traffic at Jewar Airport is estimated at 12 million passengers per annum in the first phase of the project, and expected to go up to 70 million ppa once all phases are completed. The IGI Airport is set to reach its peak capacity of 110 million in the next six or seven years. Hindon Airport in Ghaziabad, which became operational in October this year, is currently limited to two airlines.
What led to the choice of the location?
Jewar Airport will be about 72 km from IGI Airport, 40 km from Noida and Ghaziabad, 28 km from Greater Noida, and 65 km from Gurgaon. It will be an alternative not only for passengers within NCR (or fliers travelling to NCR from the airport) but also for several cities in western Uttar Pradesh. For Agra, Bulandshahr or Aligarh, Jewar Airport will be within 150 km and therefore closer than IGI Airport. “The location of Jewar Airport will help passengers from not only Delhi but UP, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Haryana as well,” said Shailendra Bhatia, nodal officer of Noida International Airport Limited.
For connectivity, the Yamuna Expressway Development Authority is looking at options that include a rapid rail transport system and dedicated bus routes. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, in cooperation with the Noida Metro Rail Corporation, is carrying out an expert study into the feasibility of extending the Metro’s Pink Line until Jewar. For those travelling by road, Jewar is connected to the rest of Greater Noida by the Yamuna Expressway.
Since when has it been planned?
The idea had been in the pipeline for 18 years. It was mooted in 2001, during Rajnath Singh’s tenure as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. In 2010, CM Mayawati proposed a Taj Aviation Hub, an idea that did not take off. Between 2012 and 2016, the Samjwadi Party government took forward the idea of an international airport in Agra, and the Jewar project fell out of focus. During the UPA regime, the project was again delayed by a clause in the Civil Aviation Ministry guidelines for greenfield airports, which placed restrictions on setting up a civilian airport within 150 km of an existing one. In 2016, the NDA government relaxed these norms. In 2017, the Jewar Airport got clearance from the Ministry. Later, the process of land acquisition too progressed slowly amid protests from farmers.
Zurich International Airport AG, or Flughafen Zürich AG, outbid three Indian companies — Delhi International Airport Ltd, Adani Enterprises Ltd and Anchorage Infrastructure Investments. Flughafen Zürich AG, which is currently managing eight airports abroad, will build and manage Jewar Airport under a 40-year concession.
When is the airport opening?
The airport will come up over four phases, with the complete project taking 30 to 40 years. According to the nodal agency Noida International Airport Limited, work on the first phase is likely to begin early in 2020 and will be completed by 2023-24. The total cost is projected at Rs 29,560 crore.
Some real estate experts believe that the airport will help create jobs in commercial space that will come up around the airport, and also create a residential market. Others feel that the long time period of project execution will reduce short-term benefits. According to Pankaj Kapoor, MD of real estate research company Liases Foras, since commercial spaces develop in clusters, the airport construction might not aid growth in Greater Noida region. Some feel hospitality industries have a better chance of flourishing around the airport premises as observed in the case of Delhi and Mumbai airports.
How has land acquisition progressed?
The first phase involves acquisition of 1,334 hectares from farmers in six villages in Jewar tehsil. Until November 28, the state government has paid Rs 3,167 crore compensation at Rs 2,300 per square metre. About 1028.5 hectares land (nearly 80%) has been acquired and officials are confident that the remaining 20% will be acquired in December. Acquisition faced protests from groups of farmers who alleged the amount was insufficient compared to what they were entitled to under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.
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