Union minister for tourism and culture and MP from Gautam Budh Nagar Mahesh Sharma said there is a need to rework the infrastructure of the twin cities. In an interview with HT, he said a lack of initiative and willpower on the part of the state government is holding up the proposed airport at Jewar. Here are the excerpts:
What progress has been made with regard to the proposal for an airport at Jewar?
There is only one airport in the entire national capital region (NCR). More than nine crore people depend on the Delhi airport. Three cities of the NCR had offered land for construction of an airport -- in Rohtak city for a cargo airport; in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan; and we offered land in Jewar, which has already been acquired for an airport.
However, we need the consent of the state government. The state had expressed its desire to start work on construction of the airport soon, in a function in Delhi, but the issues are yet to be discussed.
It’s easy to construct an airport in Jewar as 2,000 acres have already been acquired for the purpose. Now that land acquisition has become tougher, there is no more options left for the airport.
Noida and Greater Noida were considered to be among the finest cities in NCR but are now choked with traffic. What can be done to decongest them?
Thousands of people came to the city in search of a better lifestyle and jobs. As the population increased, the existing infrastructure proved to be insufficient, leading to chaos in the city. If we want Noida and Greater Noida to become a sub-city, which can decongest Delhi, we will have to work together to make it accessible.
Traffic jams on the DND Flyway, NH-24, Kalindi Kunj Bridge and on the internal roads of the city will only discourage people from wanting to reside in Noida. We will have to make sure that people who are working in Delhi can reach their homes in Noida or Greater Noida easily. The metro project is already underway and will help decongest roads. However, the state and Centre need to work on the infrastructure, especially the roads and flyovers.
As Union minister of tourism, what are your plans for the twin cities?
A huge memorial for Bhagat Singh is being constructed at the Nalgarha village, where the freedom fighters used to hide before Independence. Construction of a night safari -- on 250 acres adjoining the Gautam Budh University (GBU) campus along the Yamuna Expressway -- is also underway. I have selected a tourism zone from Akshardham temple in Delhi to the Formula 1 track in Greater Noida. We will be working to promote tourism on this circuit so that people who are visiting Akshardham can also visit the F1 track, the Nalgarha village and enjoy the night safari.