Silchar, Aug. 7: Problems with land acquisition is creating hurdles in the Rs 150-crore scheme to expand and modernise Silchar airport in Kumbhirgram village, about 25km from here.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had sought additional land to build a new passenger terminal replacing the existing one at an estimated cost of Rs 3.87 crore and build a second runway in 2001.
But the proposal to acquire 130 acres of land in Scotpur tea estate near the airport and about 200 acres of tea plantation in the Kumbhirgram Goodricke Company is being opposed by the garden management.
Both estates have said it would be difficult to hand over land to AAI as it would lead to many workers losing their livelihood.
Cachar district deputy commissioner G.M. Hazarika convened a meeting last month here in a bid to end the deadlock. Representatives of Goodricke Company, Indian Air Force (IAF), Tea Association of India (TAI), Indian Tea Association (ITA), Barak Chah Sramik Union (BCSU) and district officials attended the meeting.
The IAF was invited as the Silchar airport is under the operational control of the Union defence ministry.
Hazarika constituted a 16-member committee with representatives from AAI, district administration, TAI, ITA, IAF, Cachar land acquisition office and three elderly residents of Udarbond block under which Silchar airport falls, to make a joint survey of the lands needed by AAI for airport expansion.
Hazarika will hold another meeting with all parties concerned soon to end the stalemate over land acquisition.
Sources in Goodricke Group said it had already given a sizable portion of land at Kumbhirgram estate a few years ago to AAI for extending the present runway from 5,857 feet to 7,500 feet to enable A-320 Airbus to land.
The company received Rs 4.37 crore for the land. Another proposal given by the tea industry was to shift the airport to Kharil tea estate near the present site but the AAI is not agreeable to such a proposal as it entails large investment.
Silchar airport is the fourth busiest terminal in the Northeast after Guwahati, Imphal and Agartala in terms of traffic density, handling an average of 90,000 passengers every year, according to AAI sources.