Maharashtra to develop a well-planned city around Shirdi airport
The Maharashtra government has decided to develop the area around Shirdi airport in Ahmednagar as a well-planned city on the lines of Naina (Navi Mumbai Airport-Influenced Notified Area) project in Navi Mumbai. The decision was taken in a meeting of Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation (MADC) chaired by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday. The influence area around the airport has also been named ‘ASHA’ (Area around Shirdi Hub Airport).
MADC is a special purpose company established by the state government to plan, construct, operate and maintain airports in the state.
It has been appointed as special planning authority for the ASHA project. The company will now prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for the project, the officials said.
Shirdi is a popular temple town of the country, owing to the shrine of spiritual guru Sai Baba. Its airport is located at Kakadi in Kopargaon, which is 14-km from Shirdi and is spread over a 350-hectare area. It has surpassed airports like Aurangabad, Nanded, Nashik and Kolhapur, in terms of passenger load and is the fourth busiest airport in Maharashtra after Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. In 2020, it was used by 569,000 passengers, up from just 229,000 in 2019.
“Identify the area around the airport to settle a city with all the facilities in Shirdi and also set up one of the best development centres in the state,” the chief minister said during the 76th board MADC meeting at his official residence Varsha, Malabar Hill in south Mumbai.
The state government is planning to acquire around 1,600-hectare of land around the airport to develop the city.
“The idea is to have a well-planned city around Shirdi airport like the NAINA project around Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) in Navi Mumbai. We are anticipating that it would become one of the busiest airports in the coming years and at a later period it will not be possible to expand so now itself we will acquire the land around the airport and make sure we will have a really good modern well-planned city around it in the years to come,” said Valsa Nair, principal secretary, (civil aviation) general administration department.
Deepak Kapoor, vice chairman and managing director, MADC said that they will be focusing upon developing four types of industries in the project which will be mainly the maintenance and repair industry of aircraft, cargo and logistics, infrastructure for religious tourism and hotels and hospitality sector.
“Shirdi is close to Nashik and the city has a huge plant of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) where they manufacture Sukhoi, Jaguar fighter jets. Considering Shirdi’s proximity to Nashik, we will be focusing on developing the aviation maintenance and repair industry. Since the Nashik-Shirdi belt is a huge centre of horticulture produce such as pomegranate, grapes, guava, we are planning to develop a cargo hub and logistics industry. We will also be focusing on creating religious infrastructure as a lot of people visit Shirdi temple and the last area of focus would be developing hotels and the hospitality sector,” Kapoor told HT.
“The board has given us a go-ahead only today so now a DPR will be prepared. We have a large team of urban planners working with MADC, who will get down on the field, areas will be identified. We will then identify how much private land and how much government land is required and take further steps,” he added.