Barely a month after the Supreme Court upheld the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to acquire land for the much-awaited expansion and modernisation of the Chennai airport, the Rs 2,700-crore project is likely to be taken up by the public investment board (PIB) for consideration on Tuesday.
Government sources said the airport project has been delayed due to pressure from the Left parties who were allies to the government apart from the niggling land acquisition problems.
The project will in all probability be implemented by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) despite the ministry’s earlier stance of a private bidder carrying out the project. “The process of issuing a tender and carrying out a bidding process will take too long which is not good for a project that has already been delayed by more than six months,” an official from the ministry of civil aviation said.
According to AAI’s plans, the acquired land will be used to construct a second runway, parallel to the existing 12,000-feet main runway, and extend the existing 6,500-foot cross runway. This would enhance the airports handling capacity to 50 flights an hour and allow it to meet the demands of air traffic until at least 2016. The Chennai airport can currently handle 28 aircraft movements an hour.
The project proposal, once cleared by the PIB, will be circulated among the various departments and ministries of the government before coming up for the Cabinet clearance. “The proposal should be in front of the Cabinet within the next one month while the Kolkata airport is expected to be cleared by next week,” a civil aviation ministry source said.