The proposed Shirdi airport,which was to be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee on November 16,is likely to be delayed again,with acquisition of some more land for the runway still pending. The deadline has now been extended to the end of this year.
The project,which was to be completed last year,was delayed by a year due to fund issues. The Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) has now stated that the project cannot be inaugurated in November. We have completed 70 per cent of work. However,the runway for landing is not ready as there is a local road that passes along and there is a need for acquisition of more land. This is likely to delay the process further and the project will not be ready by the November 16 deadline set by the government for the inauguration, said a senior MADC official.
With the MADC getting only a total of Rs 216.43 crore for the Rs 315-crore project,officials said funds crunch was another reason for the delay in completion of the project.
We got about Rs 50 crore from the Shirdi Devasthan and the remaining from the government through loans. The government allocated Rs 86.43 crore only this year.
We will now be having a small terminal,spending just about Rs 3-4 crore. We have been categorically told to just construct the terminal and not bother about the power and water supply as that would mean additional Rs 50 crore. The private party to be selected for the Build Operate and Transfer (BoT) project will have to do the needful, added the official.
Talking about the project,the official said: The single runway will be 60 metre wide and 2,500 metre long,while the compound wall construction will see a 10-foot high wall stretching around 11 km.
The project commenced in 2010 and was supposed to be ready by the beginning of 2012. However,the year 2011 saw no work being carried out. The state government had acquired 750 acres from 712 farmers of Kakadi village. Earlier,a huge terminal was proposed which was to cost around Rs 40 crore. The plans were changed again. Shirdi Devasthan officials said they had put in their contribution and the airport was a vital link to promote religious tourism. With a large number of people coming in from south India and other places,the airport is the need of the hour. We are hoping it will be readied soon, said an official.