Land acquisition hurdle for upgrading Agartala airport

AGARTALA:The proposed up-gradation of Agartala airport to an international airstrip has run into rough weather with the dispute over land acquisition for expansion of the runway and other mandatory infrastructure.

Officials here on Saturday said that the state government had been demanding an international airport for the past two years but the Airport Authority of India(AAI) sought land as the state’s contribution.

“They have demanded land without compensation from the state but nowhere in the country has the state government provided free land to AAI because ultimately the airport authority would do business and have to pay for the land as well as related compensation to the beneficiaries in acquisition,” officials stated.

The officials, however, pointed out that the state government had written several letters to the Civil Aviation Ministry, AAI Chairman, North Eastern Council and Planning Commission to manage fund for acquisition of land for the expansion of airport, but no positive indication was found to proceed further.

Meanwhile, AAI officials here accused the state administration of not providing land for expansion and said both the state government and Bangladesh had been contemplating up-gradation of the airport since long but did not help in land acquisition of at least 30 acre.

“Agartala is the second largest state in Northeast in terms of population and air-traffic after Guwahati and it’s volume of business and passenger movement with Bangladesh substantiate the demand of international airport.

But unless they give us land we can’t move further,” said AAI officials.

They added that AAI would build necessary infrastructure, including star category hotel, immigration centre and other auxiliary set up.

As many as 30 flights move to and from Agartala at present, catering to the travel demand of about 3000 passengers a day.

The destinations include Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

Besides, on an average 100 people from neighbouring Bangladesh travel daily to and from Agartala. (UNI)

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