• Proposed Greater Noida airport-another ghost airport in the making?

    Will the proposed international airport in Jewar, Greater Noida be another ghost airport in the making?

    Built at a cost of Rs 1400 crore the Chandigarh International Airport, which is 250km from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport has failed to start international operations.

    Will Jewar, which is hardly 84km from Delhi, meet the same fate?

    The Uttar Pradesh government recently sought approval from the central government for an international airport in Greater Noida.

    Greater Noida is represented by minister of state for civil aviation Mahesh Sharma in Parliament.

    “Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport is capable enough to handle the rising growth of air traffic. As of now the total Terminal passenger capacity at IGI Airport is 62 million passenger per annum against the actual traffic of approx. 41 million passengers handled in the FY 2014-15,” said an official.

    “As per the master plan IGI Airport is expected to handle 109 million passengers in the year 2034. This would be adequate to meet the likely traffic demands over the next 18-20 years,” he said.

    Huge investment has already been made for expansion of the passenger handling capacity and modernisation at IGI Airport. “Now, a new airport within 84 km radius is sheer wastage of public money,” he said.

    India has spent more than $50 million since 2009 on eight airports that do not receive scheduled flights – white elephants that are a reminder of the pitfalls for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he bets on an infrastructure drive to fuel growth.

    Two-and-a-half years after the completion of a new $17 million terminal building, the Jaisalmer airport has no flight operations.

    Opened with much fanfare as the city’s link to the world, the Chandigarh International Airport, around 250km from Delhi airport, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister in September, could not attract the airlines to start international operations as yet. The Airport is now under the scanner of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, with the Rs 1,400 crore ($210 million) facility failing to deliver.

    There are international examples of failed airports too. Mirabel Airport in Canada was built at a huge cost for Montreal Olympics 1975. Canadian Government was sparing no efforts to make this airport – a show piece for the entire world. But its location – 55 km from Montreal down town and unpopularity with Airlines- which had already established base at Dorval, the existing airport – killed the Mirable airport. Finally, the airport was closed in 2004 after phenomenal losses and today it is functioning as a cargo airport, with some GA Services.

    The proposal for an airport in Jewar was first mooted in 2001 by home minister Rajnath Singh, then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. His successor Mayawati also backed the plan and acquired more than 2,000 acres for the proposed airport. Chris Carson Jersey

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