Monday, November 29, 2004

PM tries to save airport project

PM steps in to spur International Airport project
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: After a decade of hiccups, of waiting for clearances, of overcoming hurdles, including political ones, Bangalore’s international airport is set to become a reality. And if it does, the City will have to doff its cap to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Singh’s intervention in the project followed after a letter from Infosys Chairman N.R. Narayan Murthy, expressing concern over the delay. Singh has decided to personally monitor the project’s progress, so that ‘individual interests’ do not hamper the project implementation.

There will be a high-level review meeting to discuss the project in New Delhi on Monday. Senior IAS officer and Karnataka Infrastructure Secretary Vinay Kumar will attend.

However, the State Cabinet is also likely to discuss the issue of cost escalation in its next Cabinet meeting. The cost of the project has now reached Rs.1334 crore from the earlier estimated cost of Rs.1260 crore.

The International Airport project, after a series for roadblocks, was cleared by the UPA Government recently.

However, despite assurances by the State Government, the project was further delayed. According to sources, some top leaders in the coalition government were against the project being implemented through the present consortium.

During earlier meetings, cost comparisons were drawn between Kochi Airport, which was built at a cost of Rs.300 crore and the proposed airport’s cost (Rs.1260 crore).

However, officials had to explain that the Kochi Airport had a capacity of one million passengers per year, while the Bangalore Airport capacity was five times that, sources said.

On Saturday, a high-level meeting chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Industries Minster P.G.R. Sindhia and senior officials reviewed the project.

It was decided that the next Cabinet would discuss the issue of about Rs.70 crore cost escalation, while rest of the issues would be addressed by the Prime Minister, sources added.


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