Changed international guidelines and the need for modern facilities for the arrival of bigger aircraft are among the many reasons for the officials of the Airports Authority of India to insist on additional land of 465 acres for the modernisation of the city airport, located at Gannavaram.

The airport officials have clarified this to Machilipatnam MP Konakalla Narayana, Gannavaram MLA Dasari Balavardhana Rao and other elected representatives during a briefing given to them recently on the present status of works being carried out at the airport and also on the actual requirement of land for developing new facilities.

The MP and the MLA sought information on the entire issue to arrive at a correct picture in the light of conflicting statements being aired from different quarters over the issue of land acquisition.

‘Preliminary meet’

The AAI officials made clear to the elected representatives that as per the latest international guidelines, nearly 150 metres of additional space on either side of the runway should be left, instead of just 75 metres as was in vogue earlier. With regard to hangar space too, it was now required to develop facilities for five aircraft, instead of two. Mr. Balavardhana Rao told The Hindu that the airport officials gave some basic information as to why additional land was required for the purpose of developing new facilities so that bigger Airbus and Boeing flights could land at the city airport in the immediate future. He said it was just a preliminary meeting held to get primary information on the present status of the airport works and no decision was taken. The AAI officials were said to have stressed the need for acquiring 365 acres out of the 465 acres projected as future requirement in the first phase and the remaining 100 acres in the second phase.

They also gave information about the high demand from the airlines for night-landing facilities so that they would be able to use the parking space here instead of struggling to find such facility in Hyderabad.

However, the AAI officials’ projection of land requirement is meeting stiff resistance from local farmers and people’s representatives of nearby villages, who assert that they are not ready to lose their lands and thereby their means of livelihood.

Mr. Balavardhana Rao clarified that any decision on the issue of acquisition of additional land would be taken only after taking the farmers of nearby affected villages into consideration.

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