Saturday, February 13, 2021

Ayodhya airport to get Rs 400cr additional fund before budget

Lucknow: In a major push to the proposed Ayodhya airport, the UP government would release Rs 400 crore for the project ahead of the state budget which is scheduled to be tabled on February 22. The state government has also approached the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to kick off the development of the airport within the next three months and make it fit for operation of ATR aircraft in the first phase.

The development comes even as construction of Ram temple picks up pace with the ruling BJP seeking to project Ayodhya as a global tourism hot spot ahead of the high-stake UP assembly elections next year.

Confirming this, UP civil aviation secretary, Surendra Singh told TOI that Rs 400 crore would be released for the project before the budget session. This would be apart the Rs 625 crore which have already been given by the state government for acquisition of land. This way the state government would be spending over Rs 1000 crore for acquisition of land for the Ayodhya airport. “The state government is committed to provide land for the project as per the commitment made in the MoU with the AAI. We are closely monitoring the purchase of land at the ground level,” he said.

Singh said that the state government had already given the approval for the purchase of additional 496 acre of land. This would be apart the 177 acre which is there at the existing airport site.

The airport was handed over to the AAI in 2014 for development. The project, however, attained pace in 2018 after CM Yogi Adityanath sought development of a large airport in Ayodhya even as the Ramjanambhoomi Babri Masjid case was being heard by the Supreme Court.

Sources said that the AAI has told the state government that it seeks to start operation of ATR aircraft in the first phase within a year and then the Air Bus in the next phase. “The state government seeks to make the airport fit even for Boeing 777. For this the airport, including the existing 1800-metre air strip, will have to be expanded,” sources said.

12/02/21 Pankaj Shah/Times of India

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