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HindustanTimes Thu,30 Oct 2014

Hakim unaware about high risk at Andal airport

Saptarshi Banerjee, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, December 16, 2012
First Published: 12:35 IST(16/12/2012) | Last Updated: 12:38 IST(16/12/2012)

State municipal affairs and urban development minister Firhad Hakim apparently didn’t have a clue about the dangers lurking at Aerotropolis, which threatens to disrupt and delay flight operations out of Durgapur from Poila Boishak, the first day of the Bengali New Year.

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A high-tension line cutting across the runway at Aerotropolis has been deemed a threat and a high risk to flight operations.

So much so that the flight operations at the facility has been dubbed unsafe and has been delayed till such time the high-tension wires are shifted.

“The authorities of Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited (BAPL) never brought to my notice the problems with regard to the high-tension electric cables at the facility. If I had the slightest inkling about the risks, I would have mobilised urgent measures to resolve the problem,” Hakim told HT.

“Should the BAPL authorities approach me on the matter, I could put in a word with power minister (Manish Gupta) and urge him to do the needful,” the minister said.

The problem came to light after VP Agarwal, chairman of Airports Authority of India (AAI), arrived at Andal for a routine inspection and assessment of the status at Aerotropolis during his visit to Kolkata last week.

Upon inspection of the facility, the AAI chairman voiced deep concern over the high-tension line and said that the proposed flight operations at Aerotropolis from the first day of the Bengali New Year (April 15, 2013) wasn’t likely till the cables are shifted.

“We however continue to remain hopeful about having the issues resolved and having the flights up and running at the earliest. Aerotropolis is a bigticket project with a high volume of foreign capital being pumped into it. A lot rides on this project. Singapore-based Changi is a partner in this project, and hence it’s critical to ensure that it doesn’t fall away. I would do all I can to ensure the project is complete by Poila Boisakh,” Hakim told HT.

The Aerotropolis has been billed as a first-of-its-kind Greenfield airport developed by a private company in Bengal. However, despite the worries over the high-tension cables, the BAPL authorities are adamant that the new airport at Andal would be operational by Poila Boisakh.

The AAI chairman didn’t sound as gung-ho on the project meeting the deadline, saying, “The airport cannot be made operational till the overhead high-tension electric cables across the runway are shifted.”

Addressing an event back on December 1, Hakim was quoted as saying, “The (Andal) airport is almost complete and the BAPL would now focus on developing the township infrastructure. The same is a critical component of the project and would change the face of this region and the general perception about Bengal as a whole.”

The new airport is tipped to link such areas as the Asansol Durgapur Planning Area (ADPA), Burdwan, Dhanbad urban agglomeration and surrounding districts. The project is also billed to put the ADPA on the national aviation network.


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