Review policy on airports: Praful

G. M. Rao, Chairman, DIAL (left), presents a memento to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at the stone laying ceremony of the New Integrated Terminal and Runway at the IGI Airport on Saturday. Looking on is Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel (right).   | Photo Credit: Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Mandira Nayar

As land acquisition is facing hurdles

NEW DELHI: Calling upon the Ministry of Finance and the Planning Commission for support to the growing civil aviation sector, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel on Saturday said there was a need to "revisit" the policy on airports as land acquisition was facing hurdles with Special Economic Zones.

"I would urge the Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia to revisit how we allot new airports. Indian aviation depends on large availability of infrastructure," said the Civil Aviation Minister after the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi laid the foundation stone for the new integrated terminal and the third runway at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here.

Mr. Patel said that if entrepreneurs can get land with the support of the people, this would help solve the problem. He also urged the Finance Ministry for concessions for 80-seater passenger aeroplanes.

"If this sector has to grow then infrastructure must be put in place," said Mr. Patel. He added that the Government had in the last few years made up for lost time. "It is a time when aviation is not just for an elite few," he said, adding that the domestic aviation sector had witnessed a 50 per cent increase this fiscal year. "By conservative estimates, we will have an annual compound growth of 25 per cent for the next ten years, which is one of the highest in the world," he said.

Ms. Gandhi said the Government was committed to ensuring that infrastructure does not remain a bottleneck in the socio-economic development of the country. "In the past two years travel by air has become affordable. But more needs to be done. Air connectivity in areas like the north-east needs to be improved," she said. She wanted places of historical, cultural and religious interests also need to be brought on the aviation map.

Ms. Gandhi said it was important to recognise that expanding civil aviation would have an impact on regions especially backward ones as more jobs would be created. "Economic activity will intensify," she said.

The new state-of-the-art integrated terminal is expected to cater to a 100 million passengers per year in the fifth stage of the project. In the first phase of the project that is expected to be completed by the Commonwealth Games 2010 the terminal will be capable of handling 37 million passengers per year.

Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Rajashekhara Reddy were also present.