Cabinet approves Kolkata, Chennai airport upgrade

August 14th, 2008 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) Thursday approved the modernisation and expansion of Kolkata and Chennai airports. The government has set a deadline of 30 months for the Kolkata airport and 26 months for the Chennai airport. The work is expected to start next month.

The development of Kolkata airport will cost Rs.19.42 billion and Chennai Rs.18 billion.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told reporters that the expansion of the Kolkata airport would increase its passenger handling capacity to 20 million fliers a year.

Chennai will have a new passenger capacity of 14 million annually, he said.

The Public Investment Board (PIB) had earlier approved the Kolkata airport upgrade proposal May 30, while Chennai airport moernisation was approved July 29.

Regarding Kolkata, Dasmunsi said the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will bear 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 will have 80 percent (Rs.14.46 billion) funding through internal resources and 20 percent (Rs.3.61 billion) through commercial borrowings.

AAI has already spent Rs. 320 million and Rs.200 million towards consultancy and other related work for the two airports.

Dasmunsi said the airports will be upgraded to international standards and secondary runways will be extended and made suitable for operations for large commercial aircraft.

Moreover, navigation facilities will be upgraded, additional parking space and taxiways will be created, and road and rail connectivity to the city will be improved, he said.

In April 2007, the Committee on Infrastructure (COI) headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had decided that AAI would develop the Kolkata airport to international standards using its own resources.

The decision on Chennai airport was taken the following month.

Earlier, the PIB had been assured of AAI’s financial performance and its capacity to achieve financial closure for the project through internal resources and borrowing on its own strength and execute the project within the stipulated time.

However, both the projects have been delayed.

Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel raised the issue in a letter to Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

He said it was “the constant objections” of the planning commission on the size and scale of the projects that caused the delay.

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