U.P. pushing for international airport near Delhi

NEW DELHI JAN. 28. The Uttar Pradesh Government is using its clout with the Centre to push forward its proposal for an international airport beyond Greater Noida near Delhi as part of the Taj Special Economic Zone.

A high-level meeting in the Prime Minister's Office here on Tuesday cleared a site south of Jhevar village in Bulandsahr district as "suitable'' for the airport on the Agra-Noida expressway near Delhi, despite the Government having turned down such a proposal last year. There are questions on the feasibility, viability, safety and security of an international green-field airport, barely 80 km from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.

The Airport Infrastructure Policy states that no green-field airport would normally be allowed within an aerial distance of 150 km of an existing airport.

If allowed, then the parameters for distribution of traffic between the two airports would be clearly spelt out. Apparently, no such exercise has been carried out so far.

The U.P. Government's proposal has not reached that stage as several questions have been raised about the air space and traffic management. Consequently, the Indian Air Force was also called in for Tuesday's meeting between officials of the PMO, the Uttar Pradesh Government, the Airports Authority of India, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The technical feasibility report on the site would now be considered by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, which is yet to take a stand on the issue. An earlier proposal to construct the airport near Greater Noida or Dhankaur village was shot down by the Government on the ground that the proposed sites were close to the IGI Airport.

The U.P. Government has, however, planned an international airport as part of the Taj Special Economic Zone. The State Government hopes to build this airport into a "hub'' bringing tourists close to the Taj Mahal. It plans to bring in a strategic partner to invest in the Rs. 1000-crore airport.

It may be recalled that the Centre is working on the idea of "fast-track'' privatisation of the IGI Airport to raise it to world class standards within the year, based on the current traffic projections.

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