Chamber chief says he has been pressuring the government on land price
Airports Authority of India and the State Government entered into a memorandum of understanding in 2007 for the expansion of Gannavaram Airport, but the chances of the MoU turning into reality are bleak in near future.
State Infrastructure & Investment, Ports, Airports & Natural Gas Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao during his recent visit to the city had announced a Rs.70-crore grant for expansion of the runway and construction of new terminal building, but State Budget for 2013-14 saw only an allocation of Rs.90 lakh.
This shows the intent of the State Government as 475-acre land acquisition, which is key factor in this process, cannot be taken up and obviously this is the last nail in the coffin of the six-year-old project. Road block in the project has been the non-fixing of amicable rate for land acquisition and none of the public representatives from Krishna district seems interested in furthering this project.
The Gannavaram airport has night-landing facility, Instrument Landing facility, and automated air-traffic control system is under trial. Once the DGCA gives permission, it will be declared operational.
With all these infrastructure facilities and a great potential of passenger patronage, Gannavaram can develop into a major international airport.
Experts feel if the runway, which is 7,500 feet now is expanded up to the irrigation canal, wide-bodied aircraft can land and long-distance flights within the country and international flights also can be started. For the initial expansion about 300 acres can be acquired utilising the existing facilities. “Some land available with the airport and first phase acquisition can lead to launching of works,” opined Communist Party of India (Marxist) city unit leader Ch. Babu Rao.
The Andhra Pradesh Chamber of Commerce president Mutthavarapu Murali Krishna said that he along with like-minded people had been pressuring the State Government and had met the District Collector regarding the price that could be offered to the farmers from whom land had to be acquired. He opined that initiative had to come from the State Government in the form of bigger amount of grant in the State Budget.
The Vijayawada-based LEPL Air Costa, which is likely to launch its domestic operations in South India from Mid or End-April, would also like the airport to expand. The airport currently has hangar facility for only seven aircraft. The Opposition parties allege that private company managing the Samshabad Airport was also not too keen to see the Vijayawada Airport develop as that would reduce passenger traffic from the coastal districts.