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A hundred airports could bloom in India

Government eyes $9 bln investments during 11th plan to develop about 100 small and greenfield airports in the country, reports Gaurav Choudhury.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2007 00:23 IST
Gaurav Choudhury

The government has envisioned an investment of close to $9 billion ( Rs 36,000 crore) to develop about 100 small and greenfield airports in the country during the Eleventh Five-year Plan period ( 2007-2012), a senior civil aviation ministry official said on Wednesday.

The government is expecting that the private sector would contribute about Rs 24,000 crore and state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) would pitch in with the remaining Rs 12,000 crore.

KN Srivastava, joint secretary in the Civil Aviation Ministry, told reporters that about 100 airports would be developed during the period and many state governments including those of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar and north-eastern states have shown a keen interest in the project.

"The Karnataka government has invited bids for the development of airports in Bijapur, Shimoga, Hasan and Gulbarga and international airport developers have shown interest in these," he said on the sidelines of a meeting organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

He said the ministry was in talks with the Indian Air Force on using aiports controlled by the Air Force by civilian aircrafts on a "flexi use" model.

He said IAF had agreed in principle to allow the AAI to fly civilian aircrafts from their base stations and the Hindon base in Ghaziabad on the outskirts of Delhi could be one of the first stations where commercial aircraft may take off.

The towns where airports would be developed during the 11th Plan period include Asansol, Durgapur, Bhagalpur, Nodia, Navi Mumbai, Shirdi, Tawang, Itanagar and Kohima.

There are now 127 functioning airports in the country.

"Since smaller airports do not require that much of land and state governments are coming forward to lease out land, it would be easier for private parties and the AAI to develop these airports," Srivastava said.

He said a committee has been constituted under Anwarul Hoda, Member, Planning Commission to suggest measures to establish rail linkages between airports and cities.

The government has invited expressions of interest (EoI) for modernisation of 35 non-metro airports. Unlike the Delhi and Mumbai airports, where the airports were handed over to private consortia, the government has decided to separate the non-aeronautical and aeronautical aspects for the modernisation programme of these airports.

The airports of all the state capitals would be modernised under this programme.