Airport upgrade work at Kolkata, Chennai to begin in SeptemberAugust 14th, 2008 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) The modernisation and expansion of the Kolkata and Chennai airports will start from next month, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel announced soon after the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the projects Thursday. “The foundation of these two projects will be done next month and its development and expansion will be completed in the next three years,” he told reporters.
Patel also hoped that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) - developing these airports - would not need any external help to fund these projects.
The government has earmarked Rs.19.42 billion and Rs.18 billion, respectively, for the Kolkata and the Chennai airports.
For the Kolkata airport, AAI would fund 80 percent of the project cost (Rs.15.54 billion) through internal resources and the balance 20 percent (Rs.3.88 billion) through commercial borrowings.
Similarly, for Chennai airport, AAI would have 80 percent (Rs.14.46 billion) funding through internal resources and 20 percent (Rs.3.61 billion), through commercial borrowings.
“I envisage that they (AAI) would not need any external help for these projects. This is an opportunity for the AAI to compete with the private developers. The AAI can create these two airports into models and compete with the private sector to develop world-class airports. They can even compete in the international arena,” said the minister.
Both the projects envisage large investments and would be completed in a time-bound manner, Patel said, adding that the upgraded airports would cater to the needs of Kolkata and Chennai for the next two decades.
After completion, the two airports will be on par with those at New Delhi and Mumbai, the minister added.
Patel said the modernisation and expansion work will be done by the state-run AAI, which would also retain ownership of the two airports.
“Only the non-aeronautical revenue and places outside the air side will be open for a public-private partnership (PPP)” he said.
The minister said land acquisition issues have been sorted out with both the state governments.
The expansion projects at both the airports have been delayed, and Patel had in May raised the issue with the Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
He said “the constant objections” on the size and scale of the project raised by the commission were responsible for the delay in the project.
Responding to a question on the possibility of a second airport around the national capital, the minister said the matter was with the Group of Ministers (GoM).
“We are open to having an airport at Jhajjar (in Haryana) or Jhevar (at Great Noida). It all depends on the GoM’s decision,” he said.
The GoM is looking into the intricacies of the issue, which includes legal and other contractual agreements and obligations the government has with the Delhi International Airport Ltd, which is developing Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Patel said the airport’s new third runway at the IGI airport would start its operations from the month end.
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