Santosh Patnaik

The Ministry of Defence has raised objection to its location on ‘security grounds’

The State Government is firm on grounding the project in view of coastal corridor

The Airports Authority of India is conducting technical feasibility study

VISAKHAPATNAM: The take-off of the Greenfield international airport project near Visakhapatnam will be delayed further with the Ministry of Defence raising objections on ‘security grounds’ its location at S. Rayavaram, about 50 km. from here .

The Navy has acquired land for establishing second naval base in the Eastern Command at Achyutapuram, about 10 km. from the proposed site. The second base is called Naval Alternative Operation Depot. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is also setting up its second unit near Achyutapuram.

Second in the State

The objections notwithstanding, official sources told The Hindu that the State Government was very keen on putting pressure on the Centre to clear the hurdles for grounding the project – the second in the State after the international airport developed by the GMR at Shamshabad.

The Airport Authority of India is conducting technical feasibility study.

Alternate lands are also explored but S. Rayavaram is being considered due to availability of huge stretch of land without necessitating any acquisition.

An APIIC official said the State was firm on grounding the international airport project in view of its plan to take up first phase of coastal corridor between Visakhapatnam and Kakinada in an area of 1.50 lakh acres.

The Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region, which will become part of coastal corridor, itself envisages an investment of Rs.3.43,000 crores in five to seven years.

Circuitous route

With Health City coming up at Adarshnagar in an area of 200 acres, medical tourism will be on top of the agenda of the powers-that-be the absence of an international airport, connectivity will be a problem.

Though the city offers everything for recreation of foreign tourists with multiplexes, I-Max theatres and 18-hole golf courses under construction, the existing domestic airport now being run by Navy has its own problems.

Despite investment of Rs.200 crores on modernisation and expansion of runway from 6,000 to 10,500 feet, it is not operational 24 hours due to security reasons and for want of manpower for air traffic control by the Navy. Tourists coming from London, Birmingham and other cities are being forced to take circuitous route for want of connectivity. “If they start construction of international airport, it will take seven years.

In view of city turning into an industrial with second port ready to launch its operations at Gangavaram, international airport work should be taken up a fast-track basis,” said D. Varada Reddy, the president of Air Travellers Association (India).