Hosur airport | Many obstacles before take off

The government has several hurdles to overcome in its Hosur airport project

Updated - July 03, 2024 11:22 am IST

Published - July 03, 2024 12:15 am IST

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has said that the Hosur airport is essential to improve the socio-economic status of Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts. 

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has said that the Hosur airport is essential to improve the socio-economic status of Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts.  | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin’s ambitious proposal for an international airport in Hosur in Krishnagiri district, which shares a boundary with Bengaluru, has brought cheer to the industrial community in the town.

However, some people have raised doubts about the proposal as a concession agreement signed between the Centre and the Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL), the operator of Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, contains a clause against setting up a new airport within a 150-kilometre radius of the greenfield airport till 2033.

In the recently concluded Legislative Assembly session, Mr. Stalin said the proposed airport would be established on 2,000 acres of land in Hosur with a capacity to handle 3 crore passengers annually.

In recent years, Hosur has emerged as a nucleus for auto and electric vehicle manufacturing and electronics. It is a favoured investment destination by virtue of its proximity to the Electronic City. The State government has been implementing schemes to turn Hosur into a major economic hub. Mr. Stalin has said that the airport is essential to improve the socio-economic status of Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts.

Soon after the announcement of the new airport, Bharatiya Janata Party State (BJP) president K. Annamalai and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Rajya Sabha MP P. Wilson had a heated debate. Mr. Annamalai dubbed it a “publicity stunt”. He cited the response of then Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, General (retired) V.K. Singh, to a question raised in the Rajya Sabha by Mr. Wilson on the airport in Hosur. Mr. Singh had said that no airport could be constructed within a 150-km radius of the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru for 25 years starting 2008, in accordance with the agreement signed between the Centre and BIAL. Besides, the guidelines released by the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation for setting up a new greenfield airport also state that new airports are not allowed to come up within an aerial distance of 150 km of an existing civilian airport.

Mr. Wilson, however, pointed out that he had requested the then Minister to ignore the concession agreement and termed it void ab-initio and against public interest. The Union government cannot unilaterally agree with a private body on commercial interests, without the State’s consent, while sacrificing the interests of the people of Tamil Nadu and their rights of free movement, he said.

Mr. Wilson said that the Chief Minister has rightly asserted the rights of the people of Tamil Nadu by announcing the airport project. The announcement demonstrates the constitutional rights of free movement, development, and federalism, he added.

Mr. Wilson also said that Mr. Annamalai only referred to clause 8.1(a) of the Ministry of the Civil Aviation Guidelines (policy for setting up greenfield airports) to point out that a new airport cannot be established within 150 km of an existing airport. However, clause 8.1(b) of the policy clearly states that airports can be set up within a 150 km distance on a case-by-case basis, he pointed out.

As per the guidelines, if the application seeks to set up a greenfield airport within 150 km of an existing civilian airport, it would be considered by the Steering Committee. The Committee would consider all the relevant facts and circumstances including contractual liabilities, if any, and make suitable recommendations to the Central government. In 2017, the Centre had given approval for a greenfield airport at Jewar in Greater Noida, located 72 km from the Indira Gandhi International Airport, based on the recommendations of the Steering Committee.

Reportedly, Tamil Nadu has initiated talks with BIAL for the airport in Hosur. The move also comes at a time when Karnataka is looking for construction of a second airport in Bengaluru.

While there might be compelling reasons for setting up Hosur airport, the government has many hurdles to overcome. The DMK, which is part of the Opposition INDIA bloc, needs to bargain hard to get the nod from the Centre. Already, the relationship between the Centre and Tamil Nadu government has not been cordial on issues such as devolution of taxes.

For the proposal to come through, the government will need to overcome regulatory hurdles, develop the necessary infrastructure, and make it viable for all stakeholders.

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