| The western side of the runway at Patna airport. Telegraph picture |
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is reluctant to buy the 6.37 acres of land on the western side of the city airport paying Rs 114.66 crore, as fixed by the state government.
The state cabinet cleared the proposal to transfer the land to the AAI on January 15 for a premium. But the airports authority officials are against buying it. A final decision in this regard would be taken only after a formal communication from the AAI headquarters in New Delhi, said a senior official of the AAI.
A source in the AAI claimed that it was expecting the state government to give the land free of cost.
“According to the general policy in practice across the country, state governments usually give the land and the AAI spends money for developing the requisite infrastructure. We were expecting the same in Patna, but the state government left us disappointed,” said the senior AAI official.
“The airports in Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Raipur and Jharsuguda have been developed or expanded on the land given by the respective state governments free of cost. The AAI had looked after the outlay for developing various facilities,” said the AAI official.
The city airport, identified as one of the most critical airports of the country because of its short runway, is spread over 52 acres at present. The master plan for its overall expansion envisages extending the aerodrome along its western flank on the vacant land of Special Task Force (read the state government) between the boundary wall of the airport and the Howrah-Delhi railway tracks.
The AAI had been demanding the land from the state government for the past several years to create parking bays for aircraft. At present, night parking facility is not available at the city airport.
Officials in the state civil aviation department claimed that the proposed expansion of the airport would not be possible without co-operation from the AAI.
“We have given 100 acres of land for free to the AAI for the expansion of Gaya international airport. In Patna, the plot is well within the city and is a valuable piece of land. We want the expansion of the airport but it is not possible only on the expenses of the state government. Earlier, the AAI had promised to pay for the expenses incurred in pruning hundreds of trees along the aircraft approach funnel but it has not made any payment till date,” said a senior official of the department.
Aviation experts claimed that the AAI and the state government should work together for the expansion of the airport because night parking bay would benefit both.
“Night parking charges are very high and a good source of revenue for the AAI. If it agrees to pay up Rs 114 crore, it would be able to recover it within a decade from the airlines. Consequently, if Patna airport becomes a hub of aviation activities in the region, the state government would benefit as well. So, even the state government can give some relaxation in the cost of the land. It would be a win-win situation for both the sides,” said Mirza Faizan, the chief executive officer of Bangalore-based Avembsys Technologies Pvt. Ltd.