Exclusive - UP, Rajasthan (Bhiwadi) vie for NCR's second airport

 

Bhiwadi - 10th July 2015

Sri Mahesh Sharma - Minister of State for Aviation

New Delhi: In a new twist to the plan for building a second airport in the Delhi NCR region, the government may let three neighbouring states--Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan--to compete with each other for the coveted project that may decongest the capital's airport while fostering investment flows in the respective region.

As against the earlier plan for a second airport at Jewar near Great Noida, Minister of State for Aviation Mahesh Sharma told Bloomberg TV India in an interview that new airport could also be in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan.

The soaring prices in the city led to big companies setting up their plant in this town. The erstwhile image of being just an industrial town began changing for Bhiwadi when workers in the industries began looking for a place close to their work to settle down thus giving rise to the boom in real estate in Bhiwadi.

Earlier, Sharma confided that the Aviation Ministry had given an in-principal approval for a second airport and the preference was Jewar in Uttar Pradesh. “Jewar was being considered seriously since over 2,000 acres of land has already been acquired. But we are seriously considering the proposal by the Rajasthan government for making an airport in Bhiwadi as well,” Sharma said.

The minister said the two states--Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh--will have to battle it out on who could offer a better site.

The Aviation Ministry feels that another airport away from the current Indira Gandhi International Airport would go a long way in pushing the long suffering cargo operations.

GMR, which leads the consortium that operates the current airport in Delhi, would be getting the first right of refusal. “Nothing can be sine die. The current airport is congested and Delhi requires a new airport, especially for cargo.”

The aviation ministry has given a clean chit to GMR after conducting an internal enquiry into land use at DIAL. The minister also said that it was important that the National Capital Region gets a new airport within three to five years since most of the mega cities like New York and London have multiple airports. A final nod will have to be given by the Cabinet for the new airport.

An airport project changes the economic contours of the region by boosting real estate prices and spurring business activity.

In case of Mumbai, the minister said the ministry has plans to introduce sea-planes in India's financial capital.

On the contentious 5/20 rule, Sharma said it was still being reviewed and the rule will be diluted. "We do not want to leave any stone unturned while reviewing 5/20. We have sent initial proposal on 5/20 rule to Cabinet," he said.

Expecting a stormy monsoon session, Sharma said the Opposition will bring up petty issues to stall GST and Land Bills but the government was confident in GST roll out from April 2016. He also shared the concerns of states on the present Land Acquisition Act saying 29 chief ministers want the Land Bill to be passed in coming session.

 

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