Saturday, July 15, 2023

Forest department makes another attempt to push airport at Rajura

Nagpur: The controversial airport project in the functional corridor of Tadoba-Kawal tiger reserves in Murti-Vihirgaon in Rajura (Chandrapur) will once again figure in the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) meeting on July 17.

The airport is proposed to be set up in 280 hectares of which 64 hectares is forest land in the corridor. The airport project was virtually rejected by the then Uddhav Thackeray government as it was financially unviable, and it fell in the tiger corridor. The file was reopened after Sudhir Mungantiwar became forest minister in the new government led by Eknath Shinde.

The FAC on December 9, 2022, had deferred the proposed greenfield airport stating it was a non-site specific activity and was sensitive from an ecological point of view. It asked the state government to explore alternative sites.

As directed by the FAC, the project proponent, Maharashtra Airport Development Authority (MADC), on June 4, 2023, submitted a report to the nodal officer on financial feasibility and other issues. On July 6, the nodal officer submitted the comments to the government, and FAC included the proposal in its agenda for the July 17 meeting.

Clarifying the financial viability aspect, MADC says the project cost comes to Rs373.50 crore. It will be a 100% state-funded venture. The airport will earn a profit of Rs5.20 crore in the very first year. This will increase by Rs2 crore every year and by the tenth year of operation, it will earn over Rs39 crore after deducting all the taxes.

15/07/2023 Vijay Pinjarkar/Times of India

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