New Delhi: Along-pending Uttar Pradesh government proposal to develop an international airport an hour’s drive from the Greater Noida suburbs of the Capital has been given a new life with the civil aviation ministry agreeing to clear the formalities within the next three months.
The ministry will seek ‘in-principle’ approval of the Union cabinet within that time period before the state government can start acquiring the land for the proposed Taj International Aviation Hub. The proposed hub, in Gautam Buddha Nagar’s Jewar tehsil, falls within 72km of the aerial distance from the Indira Gandhi International Airport, and is seeking special permission. Under the existing rules, the minimum separation between two airports needs to be at least 75km.
Last month, a similar exception was made in case of the Navi Mumbai International Airport that is expected to be built with an investment of Rs9,970 crore but fell within 35km of the existing Mumbai airport.
“We are trying to speed up (clearances for) the proposal,” said a spokesperson for the ministry of civil aviation. “In the next three months, we will circulate a cabinet note to all the concerned ministries for their inputs.” The announcement came a day after senior UP government officials presented the updated techno-feasibility study to civil aviation secretary Ashok Chawla and AAI chairman K.Ramalingam.
The site for the airport has already been approved by the government in 2003 but still needs clearances from the defence ministry and the environment ministry.
The Noida aviation hub will require an investment of Rs3,505 crore spread over various phases excluding the cost of land.
If approved by the cabinet, the Noida airport will be the country’s second largest airport in land size—next only to the existing Delhi airport—at 3,700 acres.
According to plans, the airport will draw more revenues from non-aviation activities, including hotels and malls, and will be built through a public-private partnership. Two runways capable of handling the world’s largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, will be built and are expected to be fully utilized by 2019. Hangars to offer aircraft maintenance services and dedicated cargo facilities are also part of the submitted master plan.
According to UP government officials, the Taj Expressway Authority, which is developing the Taj Expressway, will acquire the land for the project on behalf of the state government and own 13% equity in the airport project, while a private player, which will hold 74% stake, will be selected through a bidding process. AAI, which will provide the navigation platform and air traffic control systems, will hold the remaining 13%.
A senior official in the UP government, led by chief minister Mayawati, said they have assured the Centre that if given the go-ahead in the next three months, the proposed airport will be up and running by the time New Delhi hosts the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
Mayawati has aligned her state government with the ruling United Progressive Alliance-led Union government on key issues such as the forthcoming presidential polls.
The state official, who declined to be identified, added that the state was keen on the project because of its perceived benefits to the state. “Uttar Pradesh needs an aviation hub urgently. It will be a boon to industry on the whole as it will facilitate exports. Over time, the importance of the project has grown because of the booming air traffic and Delhi airport’s inability to cope with it,” the official said. The airport will not compete but complement the Delhi airport, he insisted.
The UP government, in its report, has said that it will initiate talks with the Delhi Metro to connect the existing Delhi airport with the Taj International Aviation Hub, which it expects to give returns of 19.73% post-tax till 2038.
Delhi International Airport (P) Ltd (DIAL), which is modernizing the existing Delhi airport, will have the right of first refusal to bid for the Taj International Aviation Hub.
DIAL’s managing director Srinivas Bommidala, however, said the project was not feasible considering that the existing Delhi airport is being built to handle a capacity of 100 million passengers by 2026.
“There are traffic issues involved, defence clearances...,” he said, but declined comment whether DIAL would like to bid for the project. DIAL is a joint venture between the GMR Group, Germany’s Fraport AG, Malaysian Airport, India Development Fund and AAI.
Real estate prices in the Jewar district have tripled since May-end.