Holongi to be site for new Greenfield airport at Itanagar

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has stepped in to put an end to the dispute between the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Arunachal Pradesh government paving the way for construction of a new Greenfield airport at Itanagar at a cost of Rs. 650 crore.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation will soon move a note for the approval of the Union Cabinet for giving a final shape to the strategic project which will link the border State with rest of the country directly. The new site of the airport will be at Holongi.

Both AAI and the State Government had been locked in a tussle over the exact location of the airport with the Arunachal Pradesh Government sticking to its stands for having ``Banderdeva’’ as the location while the technical committee of AAI had recommended Holongi as the suitable site. The AAI had objected to the State Government’s choice on the ground that Banderdeva was surrounded by hilly terrain and obstacles. It also argued that there was limited scope for future expansion, poor safety environment and high cost of construction involved.

AAI had further stated that Holongi was on a flat ground and has scope of higher usability in poor weather and a safe operating environment. ``The Holongi site is considered more suitable for construction of Greenfield airport both from operational and safety point of view. The cost of construction was estimated at Rs. 980 crore against Rs. 650 crore for Holongi site,’’ it added in its report.

However, at a meeting held by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Pulok Chatterjee recently, the PMO expressed concern over the continued delay in finalisation of the location and said the matter should be resolved without any further delay.

The State Government represented by the Chief Secretary, Y.Tsering, told Mr. Chatterjee that in view of the AAI opposition to Banderdeva, the state government agrees to the Holongi site for the new airport. However, he said the necessary clearances from Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Ministry of Defence for the new location would be expedited by AAI to avoid any further delay in execution of the project. The project will also have in its surroundings a five-star hotel and a world class convention centre along with other recreational activities.

The Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the project would include provisions for commercial activities such as hotel and a convention centre at the airport. It would also provide appropriate facilities for livelihood activities for re-settled families.