The state government will hand over its airport in Ratnagiri to the Coast Guard to be developed as an airfield station for coastal surveillance.
The 45-hectare airport, used today by private chartered flights and the government, will be modernised and expanded before Coast Guard surveillance and rescue helicopters and fixed-wing aircrafts take up base there.
The Coastguard has a base in Mumbai and one in the neighbouring state of Goa, but that has not proved enough to man the state 720 kilometres of coastline.
Recognising the need for more bases, the Coast Guard had sought the Ratnagiri airport from the state before the November 26-29 terror attack on the city.
The Civil Aviation Department of the state has now moved the file. It agreed to grant the Coast Guard full access to the airport on the condition that it allows civilian flights to operate there.
“We are waiting for cabinet clearance,” said Sudhir Thackeray, secretary, civil aviation. “We can even help Coast Guard authorities with land acquisition for further expansion but would like them to allow private chartered flights and civil government flights to Ratnagiri.”
Many industrialists with projects and units in the Konkan use the Ratnagiri airport, though there are no commercial flights operating there.