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AAI suggests alternative site

chandigarh Updated: Aug 09, 2013 00:33 IST
Hitender Rao

The Airports Authority of India (AAI), which develops, finances, operates and maintains all government airports in the country, has suggested an alternative site, closely abutting the existing one at Bhaini Bhairon in Rohtak, for the proposed greenfield cargo airport in Haryana. A greenfield airport is a new project built right from a scratch at a new location.

The state government has subsequently filed a fresh application with the union civil aviation ministry for site clearance after identifying an area of more than 4,000 acres (6 km X 4 km). The proposed site falls in Meham sub division of Rohtak and touches the districts of Hisar and Bhiwani.

The state had in 2010 filed an application with the civil aviation ministry for formal approval of the project after the AAI, had okayed the initial site. The union ministry of defence (MoD) too had accorded site clearance for the project. However, the process will have to be repeated now, causing a probable delay in the implementation of the project.

An AAI team led by its executive director (ED) undertook a fresh visit to the proposed site for the cargo airport in April 2013. According to Haryana officials, the AAI executive director said that there was a need for a landing strip of about 6 km for facilitating landing of heavier and bigger aircraft such as Boeing 747-400F, McDonnell Douglas 11-F and other wide-bodied aircraft.

"The ED was of the view that the proposed site was probably not suitable for raising an airstrip that can cater to bigger aircraft and should be changed. He pointed out that the alignment of the airstrip was generally north-south. He also suggested an alternative site, adjacent to the existing one,'' officials told HT.

State officials said that an application along with the site clearance report given by the AAI previously has been filed for seeking a fresh site clearance from the steering committee on greenfield airports. "After the AAI gives site clearance, an application will be filed by the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Corporation (HSIIDC) with the civil aviation ministry for getting in principle approval for the project,'' top officials said.

In July 2012, Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda held a meeting with union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh. Singh had told Hooda there were certain issues relating to the project in view of the commitments under the concession agreement executed with the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which had imposed restrictions on the creation of additional facility within an aerial distance of 150 km from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.

For sorting out the issue, a meeting was held between Hooda and Singh on July 27, 2012, wherein the chairman of GMR, GM Rao, was also present. Various possibilities regarding setting up of the cargo airport at Meham were discussed and it was decided that the way forward for creation of the cargo airport would be possible by initially undertaking a detailed feasibility study for assessing the passenger cargo and other value-added services within the context of the concession agreement of DIAL with the government of India.

In the meeting, it was decided that the feasibility study be conducted through AAI that would further engage a suitable consultant for the purpose and the payment be made by Haryana government through HSIIDC, the nodal agency designated for the greenfield airport project.