Saturday, June 15, 2013

Another Maharashtra airport plan ‘lands’ in trouble

MUMBAI: After the Navi Mumbai international airport, the planned international airport at Chakan in Pune has also run into land acquisitiontrouble.

The government is facing difficulties in acquiring the 3,300 hectares of land required for the project. 

Initial plan was to acquire land from seven villages in Chakan. However, since most of the affected land is under irrigation, villages here have presented a stiff opposition to the move. 

An alternative plan to set up the airport on land acquired for a private SEZ in the Khed-Chakan area has also hit a hurdle with the SEZ developer unwilling to part with all the land. 

On Friday, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was briefed about the difficulties in finalizing a site for the airport. In a last-ditch attempt, Chavan asked officials to examine the feasibility of setting up the project on another piece of land near the SEZ. 

"We are trying to find a feasible solution that does not affect the SEZ project," Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation chairman U P S Madan said. 

Officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will conduct the feasibility survey for the new site, which could take a month or so. 

This land, however, is only about 1,000 hectares, way short of what was initially planned. Madan agreed that the airport project might have to be downscaled. 

With the Navi Mumbai airport facing land acquisition trouble, the government is considering the Chakan airport as an alternative option to decongest air traffic over Mumbai.