Sunday, August 24, 2008

Inauguration of airport put on hold

Inauguration of airport put on hold
BY R. JAYAPRAKASH
BENGALURU








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It’s three months since Bengaluru International Airport became operational on May 24, 2008. But neither the Chief Minister nor the Prime Minister has shown any interest in the formal inauguration of this 4,000-acre Greenfield project.

According to top officials, despite many requests to the Chief Minister’s office and the Prime Minister’s office to give possible dates for inauguration, both have evinced little interest. “Public discontent over the distance, poor connectivity, the high user development fee and criticism from public officials who have dubbed it as a glorified shed have ensured that no politician wants to be associated with the project.

“There are three PILs in the high court questioning the new facility, while the Ministry of Civil Aviation is holding parallel discussions with promoters of the airport to chalk out a middle path. These developments created a negative sentiment about the BIA which even prompted Karnataka legislators to make nasty comments about the airport and demand a house committee to look into the anomalies,” sources said.

“Participating in the event will give the stamp of approval from the highest offices against the public sentiment. This is one of the reasons why after repeated requests, both verbal and letters, that both the offices have stayed silent on the event,” sources said.

The reason that Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has kept the BIAL at bay is because naming the new airport is a political hot potato. He has received several delegations asking him to name the airport after prominent personalities. While the Dalits have asked the airport to be named after B.R. Ambedkar, the Vokkaligas have strongly campaigned for the founder of Bengaluru, Kempe Gowda. Apart from this, the Chief Minister’s own community leaders and several Lingayat seers have been pressuring him to name the new airport after the 12 century social reformer and Lingayat spiritual leader Basavanna even as the minorities are pressing for the airport to be named after legendary ruler Tipu Sultan.

The BIAL has stayed clear of these developments and wants the name of airport to be retained as BIA. “However, if the inauguration has to happen, the Chief Minister has to make up his mind on whether to retain the name or pay heed to these groups,” they said.

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