Tuesday, September 21, 2004

More delays for international airport

New airport is delayed again
120 acres more will have to be acquired
Business Standard

The much-awaited financial closure for the Bangalore International Airport (BIAL) will not happen by September 30, 2004, as promised by the new Congress-Janata Dal (S) coalition government in Karnataka.

As additional land will have to be acquired, the closure for this most eagerly-awaited project will happen only within 4-6 weeks from now. According to present reckoning, construction is likely to begin in the first half of November.

“As we have been asked by the Airports Authority of India to make both the runways exactly parallel to that of the nearby Yelahanka Air Force base, we are in the process of acquiring an additional 120 acre land. We expect the financial closure to happen within the next 4-6 weeks. Construction should commence in the first half of November,” a well-informed source told Business Standard.

After the recent signing of the concession agreement, financial closure was expected to happen anytime now and construction was supposed to begin on the 4,300-acre site by November 1, 2004.

After changing the alignment of the two new runways, as required by the Airports Authority of India, the first runway will still be within the boundaries of the new airport. But the second runway, which is supposed to come up only after 15-20 years from the time the airport becomes operational, will slightly overshoot the present boundaries.

“Though the existing angle is perfectly safe, the AAI wants the airport to meet the highest standards of safety and has hence asked for the realignment. Though the problem is only with the second runway, which will not be constructed right now, we are already in the process of acquiring this additional land of less than 100 acre to meet the requirements,” the source added.

But acquiring these 100 acres is not the whole problem. Since a railway line cuts across the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway right in front of the new international airport, the National Highway Authority of India has decided to build a two-way flyover across the railway line. So far so good.

But the problem is that the airport design has been changed to have the access to it from this highway right where the railway line is. To cross that railway line, a “trumpet junction”, a trumpet-like flyover, has to be built at one end of the two-way flyover on the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway. This one-way “trumpet” flyover passes over the railway track and descends into the airport. For the “trumpet flyover”, another 20 acres will be needed and this is also currently being acquired.

Barring these land acquisitions, most of the agreements, including the concession agreement, are in place. The state support agreement and the land lease agreement have also received final approval and are in the stage of ‘documentation’.

The other agreements — the Communication Navigation and Services/Air Traffic Management agreement between the BIAL and the AAI, the Operation and Maintenance Services Agreement between BIAL and Unique Zurich Airport and the Engineering Procurement and Construction Agreement between the BIAL and the contractors are “almost” ready.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 1,320 crore. This includes a debt component of Rs 610 crore, equity of Rs 360 crore and state support of Rs 350 crore.The land is being leased out to BIAL for a 30-year period, extendible by a similar period or a period determined at the time of renewing the BOT (build-own-transfer) pact.

The Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation and the Airports Authority of India have 13 per cent stake each in the project.

The Siemens consortium has 74 per cent stake and is lead by Siemens Project Ventures GmbH of Germany, Unique Zurich Airport and the construction major L&T.


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