Indians hail British PM May’s green signal for new Heathrow runway
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Indians hail British PM May’s green signal for new Heathrow runway

Members of the Indian community have historically been employed at various levels in Heathrow

world Updated: Jun 06, 2018 22:18 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Theresa May,Heathrow runway,London
British Prime Minister Theresa May.(Bloomberg)

The sizeable Indian community in west London has welcomed the government’s green signal to a new runway at Heathrow airport, which is expected to lead to tens ofthousands of new jobs and add billions of pounds to the British economy.

The case for the third runway at Heathrow has been long debated, resulting in rumblings and resignations in politics, but its clearance by Prime Minister Theresa May's cabineton Tuesday was greeted with much cheer in Southall and areas around Heathrow.

Members of the Indian community have historically been employed at various levels in Heathrow. The £14-billion runway, expected to be completed by 2026, will be entirely privately funded.

Some MPs and others continue to oppose the runway project, which will involve flattening at least three villages around Heathrow, but Harsev Bains of the Indian Workers Association said he was “absolutely delighted” with the clearance.

“The Indian diaspora, historically located in Southall due to the proximity of Heathrow, have come to rely heavily on key employers at Heathrow airport after the demise of manufacturing industry during the years of Tory rule under Margaret Thatcher,” Bains said.

“This was long overdue. Community and environment issues must be addressed as we progress and we will continue to monitor and apply vigilance, but the decision will provide a much-needed boost to the west London economy.”

Virendra Sharma, the Labour MP from Ealing Southall, initially opposed the runway but changed his views in view of its economicbenefits. The decision showed the Conservative government is “investing in a global Britain”, he said.

“An expanded Heathrow is not just an airport for west London, it is a nationwide and worldwide hub. With more flights in and out of Heathrow we can expect more direct flights to India and other increasingly important UK trade partners,” Sharma added.

Southall-based media professional Pal Jalli, who has reported extensively on the new runway project over the years, too was delighted: “Combined with the massive Crossrail project, the new runway will make this area one of the biggest transport hubs in the world.

“It will not only prevent areas such as Feltham, Staines and Slough from turning economic ghost towns, but also revive them and provide thousands of jobs directly or indirectly connected to Heathrow,” he added.

Heathrow’s current fullcapacity will increase from 85.5 million passengers to 130 million passengers after the third runway is constructed. The expansion isestimated togenerate about £70 billion in total economic benefits by the 2050s.

First Published: Jun 06, 2018 22:17 IST