Thursday, July 23, 2020

Land cost to be reworked, Gaggal airport expansion faces delay

Dharamsala: The Covid pandemic is set to delay the Gaggal airport expansion in Kangra district. Before the outbreak of the pandemic the government was trying to hasten the land acquisition process for the expansion of airport. However, after the Covid lockdown the project seems headed for an inordinate delay.

Sources told The Tribune that the government, in a recent directive, has asked the district administration of Kangra to rework the land acquisition cost for the project. This implies that the district administration would have to re-calculate the cost of the land to be acquired for airport expansion as per new circle rates. The circle rates for registration of the land along the Pathankot-Mandi national highway were slashed by about 40 per cent recently.

The re-calculation of the cost of the land will take a few months leading to delay in the project. Besides, in view of the reduced cost, the people, who would lose lands, are sure to resist the acquisition.

The government had planned to acquire about 40-hectare land for the airport expansion. The revenue officials had estimated that an amount of about Rs 500 crores might be required to acquire the land.

The sources here said that the AAI had asked the state government to handover the land to it for expansion of airport. Since the state government is already facing financial crisis and is in no position to cough up Rs 500 crores on its own, it was planning to submit a case with the finance commission for seeking funds.

The Gaggal airport is the busiest domestic airport of the state. It receives four flights a day during peak season. The flights ply between Delhi and Dharamsala. However, airfares from Delhi to Dharamsala and vice a versa were the highest in the country. At times, one-way air ticket from Dharamsala to Delhi costs between Rs 19,000 and Rs 21,000.
22/07/20 Lalit Mohan/Tribune

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