Noida: Three governments, countless proposals later, Jewar finally to get airport
Setting up an international airport in Greater Noida will ease traffic at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. While businessmen and hoteliers see the project as a lucrative opportunity for their business, the youth believe that an airport will bring them employment opportunities.noida Updated: Jun 24, 2017 23:20 IST
After 16 long years of planning and dawdling, Greater Noida is set to get an international airport in the next five to six years as the Union civil aviation ministry gave an in-principle nod to the proposal on Saturday.
However, it took three state governments, countless proposals and shifting of localities for the ambitious project to come to fruition. Multiple political parties have tried to piggyback on the project for gaining votes and the issue also resulted in a tussle between the state and Centre in 2013, as people anxiously waited for the promise to be fulfilled.
Setting up an international airport in Greater Noida will ease traffic at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. While businessmen and hoteliers see the project as a lucrative opportunity for their business, the youth believe that an airport will bring them employment opportunities.
It all started in 2001 when then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Rajnath Singh proposed a Greenfield Taj International and aviation Hub (TIAH) at Jewar. However, the idea was soon shelved after the Bharatiya Janata Party was voted out of power at the Centre in 2004. For the next six years, the idea was not even discussed in the power corridors of Lucknow or New Delhi, often due to differences between the state and the Centre.
In 2010, chief minister Mayawati revisited the proposal and said that it was her dream to see an international airport in Jewar. But no progress was made in the next two years and the Samajwadi Party was elected to power.
In the next five years, a tussle continued between the state and the Centre. In 2012, the UPA government had also stated that an airport in Jewar would hamper the business interests of the IGI Airport.
“We are extremely pleased with the approval for an international airport. This should have been done a long time ago but it repeatedly delayed due to the tussle between the Centre and state, besides other administrative reasons,” said AN Dhawan, secretary general, Federation of Noida Residents Welfare Association (FONRWA).
The state government in 2013 decided to shift the project to Agra, 200km away from the IGI Airport. The SP government had even considered Saifai (SP chief’s native village) as an option.
However, no progress was made in the next year as officials continued to send proposals and letters to the state government, Union government and Greater Noida authority.
In 2014, the BJP was voted to power at the Centre and the project was again shifted from Saifai to Jewar.
Dr Mahesh Sharma, the member of parliament (MP) from Gautam Budh Nagar was chosen in Modi’s cabinet as the Union minister for culture and tourism. Sharma stated that he would revive the forgotten Jewar project and said that setting up a 5,000-acre project was his top priority.
Sharma’s proposal was not objected to by the SP in 2015, which showed a willingness to support it. In June 2016, the Union ministry of defence cleared the project and in July, the Yamuna Expressway authority sent the site survey report to the defence ministry. In September, the state government had even asked YEIDA to conduct an Obstacle Limitation Survey of the proposed area.
As 2016 ended, there was to be another shift in power at the state level. The BJP’s senior leaders, from party president Amit Shah to Home minister Rajnath Singh, promised that an airport is among their top priorities.
“We will deliver what we have promised. For too long, the people of Rabupura, Jewar and adjoining villages have suffered due to the state government’s apathy. The defence ministry has already cleared the proposal and we will soon create an airport when elected to power,” Rajnath Singh had said in a political rally at Rabupura in February 2017.
Three months later, the newly elected BJP government put the project on high priority. With the coordinated efforts of YEIDA, local MLA Thakur Dhirendra Singh, MP Mahesh Sharma and Union civil aviation ministry, the formalities for obtaining approvals were swiftly completed.
In May 2017, RITES, a survey team of Indian Railways, started surveying the 5,000 hectares in Jewar and in a month, stated that there were little to no hindrances for the project. The report was submitted to the state civil aviation department that met with the officials of Union civil aviation ministry to finalise the deal.
“Setting up an airport will create thousands of jobs for the youth. The industries will benefit and businesses will bloom. Not just Jewar or villages near the Yamuna Expressway, even cities such as Mathura and Agra will benefit when from tourism,” said Mahesh Sharma on Saturday.
As the project will now enter construction stage, it is likely that in the next five to six years, Delhi-NCR will get its second international airport. However hard political parties tried to milk the issue, it was because of the lack of political will that the project was delayed 16 years.