: The proposal of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to the Chief Minister to expedite land acquisition to facilitate Mysore airport expansion is unlikely to be considered as the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has given the go-ahead for widening the Mysore–Nanjangud Road.
Similarly, its demand for fast-tracking rail link to Bangalore–Kanakapura– Malavalli–Kollegal– Chamarajanagar– Mettupalayam may also not materialise given the environmental issues related to the last stretch of project (Chamarajanagar– Mettupalayam).
The airport expansion entails lengthening the runway from 1,740 metres to nearly 2,400 metres, and this hinges on acquisition of land and diversion of the existing Mysore–Nanjangud road stretch of National Highway 212, which bisects the runway.
But the State government gave its consent for the road expansion in view of the poor air traffic volume and ruled out airport expansion for now.
Consequently, the Mysore–Nanjangud stretch of NH-212 is being taken up for four-laning. It is part of a larger project of four-laning 150.78 km stretch of NH-212 from Kollegal to Moolehole, near the Karnataka–Kerala border, under a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
Sridharmurthy of the National Highways PPP Cell, Mysore, told The Hindu that the process was on and tenders had been floated for which there were eight responses and the eligibility and qualification of the bidders were being ascertained.
There were no disruptions and hurdles to the project, he added. The cost of four-laning the stretch was pegged at Rs. 523 crore, while expanding the Mysore–Nanjangud stretch would cost about Rs.100 crore. The work was expected to completed in two years, according to Mr. Sridharmurthy.
Stakeholders, who pegged their hopes on luring greater investment to Mysore, believe the frequency of commercial flights from Mysore should increase if industrialisation is to receive a boost. For this to happen, the runway length should be extended to about 2,400 metres to facilitate the landing of wide-bodied aircraft like Boeing and Airbus, as most airlines do not have small ATR-type aircraft that can land on shorter runways like in Mysore.
Hence, it has been argued that the Mysore airport was not attractive for airline operators despite good passenger traffic originating from the city, and if the runway length was increased the airport could be commercially viable.
However, the State government has put the expansion plan in cold storage. Besides, the airport expansion requires the government to provide about 170 acres of encumbrance-free land to NHAI, apart from depositing Rs.100 crore for taking up the diversion of the existing highway to facilitate the runway extension.
The four-laning of the highway is a long-pending demand of the public, as the stretch is a motorists’ nightmare, resulting in frequent accidents. With a traffic of more than 18,000 passenger car units (PCUs ) per day, the road qualifies for widening as per NHAI norms which stipulates that any highway with a traffic density of over 8,000 PCU must be a four-lane.
The Chamarajanagar–Mettupalayam alignment — which is also part of the Bangalore–Satyamangalam railway line — passes through dense forests and elephant habitat and hence permission had been denied in the past to conduct the survey through the forests.
Even the Central Empowered Committee had declined clearance for the project as it was a threat to wildlife. Railway officials pointed out that permission for final location survey beyond Chamarajanagar had been denied by the authorities as it passed through forest land.