Patel seeks meeting with Deshmukh over Nagpur airport project


Nagpur : Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has sought a meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to resolve a deadlock over the development of Nagpur's international airport.

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Bugged by persistent criticism that he is coming in the way of development of the ambitious Multi-modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN), Patel told reporters here Friday that he was taking the initiative in the matter though the project is the baby of the Maharashtra government.

The state government-owned Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC), which is developing a multi-product Special Economic Zone (SEZ) around the Sonegaon airport at Nagpur along with the MIHAN project, is demanding handing over of the airport to it for the last four years.

While the civil aviation ministry's Airport Authority of India (AAI) has agreed to hand over the airport to MADC through an MoU and in a court affidavit, it has actually not done so yet.

Questioned on this, Patel said the state government has so far failed to acquire land in the immediate vicinity of the airport, submit a concrete plan for the airport development and call bids from competent companies for the purpose.

"Unless the state government does this, how do I seek the (central) cabinet approval for the hand-over?" Patel countered. He also pointed out that the state government has not yet given alternative land to the defence ministry to relocate Indian Air Force's Gajraj project situated on the land near the airport that MADC wants for the international airport project.

Patel is expected to thrash out all these issues pertaining to what has been billed as India's single largest ongoing project in his proposed meeting with Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in the coming fortnight.