Kolkata Airport Revamp gets Green Signal

NEW DELHI: The much awaited project to modernise Kolkata Airport is finally set to take off. The committee on infrastructure, headed by PM Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday approved the Rs 1,542-crore proposal which will be implemented by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). Aviation minister Praful Patel said the city would get new domestic and international terminals, and the latest communication and navigation systems in next three years.

"The proposal is now being sent to the Centre's Public Investment Board for clearance. Work should begin in two to three months as the first phase of development that will see construction of new terminals has to be over by 2009-10," Patel said. This announcements has put to rest speculation over who - a private player or a subsidiary of AAI - would modernise Kolkata airport.

Of the total project cost, Rs 1,300 crore would be spent on building new terminals. Currently, the domestic and international terminals at NSCB have an annual capacity of four million and a million passengers, respectively. After the bigger terminals are ready, this capacity would shoot to 20 million - 15 million domestic and rest international. An amount of Rs 200 crore would be used for runway expansion, cargo terminal and providing latest communication and navigation services.

Unlike Kolkata, Chennai's wait for a modern airport still continues. The aviation ministry has asked the Tamil Nadu government to clarify its offer of providing more land near the existing airport by May-end. "The offer for land lacks clarity as there's some confusion over the linking area between the existing airport and the land offered. Once this is clarified, we will consult with the state government as to what route the airport development should take,'' Patel said.

The state had earlier spoken in favour of adopting the Delhi, Mumbai model for modernising the airport. But the AAI issued global design bids for the place.

In another move, the ministry has appointed consultants to study the city side development of 35 non-metro airports using the public private partnership route. While these airports would be developed by AAI, the government wants to bid out the city side development at some airports to private developers.