Airport at Deoghar in two years

State govt, DRDO & AAI sign MoU for Rs 300 crore project; CM promises all help

By Our Special Correspondent in Ranchi
  • Published 26.03.17

Ranchi, March 25: The famed temple town of Deoghar is likely to host an international airport by 2019, a formal tie-up for which was signed today between the state government, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) & Airports Authority of India (AAI), aimed at putting this otherwise sleepy Santhal Pargana pilgrim spot on the aviation map.

The tripartite agreement was signed between deputy secretary of the state transport and civil aviation department R.N. Ram, AAI executive director (eastern region) S.K. Jain and DRDO additional director (works) M.S. Choudhary in the presence of Union minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha, chief minister Raghubar Das, state urban development minister C.P. Singh, MPs Ram Tahal Choudhary (Ranchi), Nishikant Dubey (Godda).

Several key bureaucrats, among them chief secretary Rajbala Verma, additional chief secretary Amit Khare, state transport and civil aviation department secretary K.K. Khandelwal, CM's principal secretary Sanjay Kumar and secretary to CM Sunil K. Barnwal, were also present during the signing at the chief minister's Kanke Road residence.

The state government has set a target of two years to complete the international airport project, worth Rs 300 crore, at Deoghar, where a non-functional airport, spread over 53.41 acre, is already in existence.

Once developed, the new airport will be of international standards, covering over 600 acres and housing an integrated terminal complex that will have the provision of setting up a host of other facilities like hotels and guest houses.

Khandelwal said the total area of the international airport will be 654.10 acres. "This means, we are giving an additional 600.60 acre land for the project. So far, 635.97 acres have already been acquired. We are providing land on lease to AAI for 30 years at the rate of Re 1 per year," he explained, adding that while the Jharkhand government and AAI would shell out Rs 50 crore each, DRDO will provide Rs 200 crore.

"AAI will realise all earnings for 10 years or till it reaches break-even point, which ever is earlier. This apart, profit or loss equity will be shared jointly by the state and AAI," Khandelwal said.

To assist AAI in operations, the state government has decided to provide free electricity for 5 years and not charge any civic taxes. Landing charges for DRDO flights and parking bays will also be free.

A senior aviation department official maintained the ball was out of state government's court now and hence there was no clarity yet on when groundwork would start. Several clearances were also awaited.

"Around 18 acres of forest land transfer is yet to happen, which is expected next month. This apart, there are a few transmission lines which exist at the project site, which need to be relocated. Tenders for this have been done. If all goes well, we can expect to lay the foundation stone in September," he told The Telegraph, adding that AAI had promised to complete the project by December 2019.

Chief minister Das promised all cooperation in implementing the project. He also appealed to AAI to consider sending a team to Chakulia in East Singhbhum to assess the viability of starting services to and from a defunct World War II-era airstrip there.

Union minister Sinha, responding to the chief minister's request to roll out initiatives to connect key towns of the state by air, said the Centre was working on plans and formal announcements were expected within the next six months.

"AirAsia is already starting services to Delhi and Calcutta from Ranchi from April. Very soon, we shall make further announcements about more flights from Ranchi and also within the state. We are in talks with several airlines," Sinha said.