Monday, May 15, 2017

Hopes revive for LBS Airport runway expansion

VARANASI: After biting dust for two years, the files related to the proposed expansion of runway at LBS International Airport are out again.
A team of higher authorities of Airport Authority of India (AAI) and other security agencies is expected here within 10 days to finalise the proposal on expansion. Major issue for discussion on the proposal with district administration will be land acquisition and also the alignment of Varanasi-Lucknow four-lane highway.
After going through the files on runway expansion in a meeting with the officials of Airport Authority of India (AAI) and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) on Saturday evening, district magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra said that over 500 acres of land would be required for the expansion of runway.
The acquisition of land would be done in two phases. National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has two options. One is to change the alignment of Varanasi-Lucknow highway by diverting it towards Basani from Babatpur. The other is to construct it under the expanded runway. The director of LBS International Airport Anil Kumar Rai said that all the aspects of the proposal of runway expansion are being reviewed.
According to AAI officials, the expansion of runway was proposed in Masterplan-2004 of the authority. Due to railway track on the eastern side of the runway, the AAI has the only option to expand the runway towards western side, where Varanasi-Lucknow highway NH-56 exists. The NHAI has already started the project of upgrading this NH-56 to four-lane highway. To expand the runway, the AAI sought 593.77 acres of land at Mangari, Baikunthpur, Karmi, Ghamhapur Karmi, Sagunaha and Pura Raghunathpur villages.
Due to protest by the farmers, the proposal was put on backburner before 2012 assembly polls. After formation of Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government at Centre in 2014, the AAI restarted efforts to materialise the project in 2015.
15/05/17 Rajeev Dikshit/The Times Of India
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