OTHERS

Devanahalli airport work to start in December

BANGALORE, JULY 24. It is official. The Minister for Large and Medium-scale Industries, P.G.R. Sindhia, has announced that work on the Bangalore International Airport will start in December.

With land already acquired and all clearances obtained, the Bangalore International Airport Ltd. (BIAL) has the work of constructing the buildings and runways.

The concession agreement favouring BIAL, which also represents the Siemens-led consortium, was signed on July 5. The airport is expected to be completed in about 33 months after the start of work.

The BIAL is a joint venture involving the Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation Ltd (KSIIDC), the Airports Authority of India (AAI), and the consortium of Siemens, Unique Zurich of Switzerland and Larsen and Toubro.

While the required 4,300 acres of land was acquired almost two years ago and three villages and as many village temples relocated, all that could be done till now was level the land.

Part of the approach to Devanahalli, the airport location 35 km. from the city, is being made a six-lane highway.

The approach road is yet to be built.

There will be fast trains from Cantonment station, terminating inside the airport terminal.

Dogged by delay

Delays plagued the project which was mooted a decade ago. The environmental and other clearances first took time and there were prolonged discussions over the share of the Union and State governments in regard to investment.

The Tatas and a Singapore group, who were initially interested, walked out, perhaps because of procedural delays.

Heavy traffic

Meanwhile, the existing HAL airport was literally bursting at its seams.

According to the Airports Authority of India statistics, 4,231 domestic aircraft use the existing airport each month, carrying around 2.45 lakh passengers.

Another 46,000 passengers fly on 472 international flights both ways.

The international flights, whose frequency has increased, operate Airbus 320 and 340 and Boeing 747 aircraft, each carrying up to 300 passengers at a time.

The international terminal is unable to cope with such numbers, and baggage handling has become too slow.

All these were undermining Bangalore's projected image as a high-tech hub and investment destination.

The BIAL Chief Executive Officer, Al Brunner, has gone on record saying that the Devanahalli airport, built to international standards, will have a four km. runway and an apron big enough to accommodate 20 aircraft at a time.

The BIAL has asked the Union Government to ensure there would be no further delays in clearances and that the aerodrome licence should be made valid for the first two years.

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