State urged to implement project to boost tourism development

Minister for Infrastructure Development Santosh Lad’s statement that the promoter of Hassan airport project had termed it “non-viable” has upset many here who had been expecting that the airport would boost industrial growth and tourism development in the region.

The Minister, in a press conference in Bangalore recently, said airport projects in five cities, including Hassan, had come to a halt. The Hassan airport project has a long history. The Central Public Works Department prepared a proposal in 1960. It was planned for 50 arrivals and 50 departures. However, the project was sanctioned only in 2007.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held at Boovanahalli on August 26, 2007. The former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and head of Jupiter Aviation Services Pvt. Ltd. Rajeev Chandrashekhar attended the programme. As per the plan, the airport complex would include a pilot training institute and an aeroplane maintenance centre. The project requires 960 acres. The district administration has, so far, acquired 536 acres and handed over the land to the promoter company. The rest 424 acres had not been acquired yet. The delay in acquiring land was said to be one of the reasons for the promoter to lose interest in pursuing it.

H.J. Hamsaraj, president, Hassan district Small and Medium Industries Association, told The Hindu that the Airport Authority of India (AAI) had planned an airport in Hassan as early as in 1960s itself.

“The AAI had understood the potential then itself. If the project was implemented then, Hassan would have been in a different state by now,” he said.

The airport was required to boost the export of agriculture products and attract tourists to historically significant places in Hassan and neighbouring districts of Chikmagalur and Kodagu. “The present government has a feeling that projects like airports are only for the rich and the poor have nothing to do with it. If an airport project is implemented in Hassan, many vegetable growers may benefit from it. The government should ensure that the project is implemented,” Mr. Hamsaraj said.

H.T. Chandrashekhar, president of Hassan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, pointed out that if the aeroplane maintenance centre was set up, it would give rise to many auxiliary units. “It was estimated that the project would give employment to 5,000 people. That would have served a major boost to Hassan economy. Besides, it would have accelerated export of agriculture products,” he added.

More In: Karnataka | National