Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Legal hurdles block new Bangalore airport

Legal hurdles block new Bangalore airport
Aravind Gowda / Bangalore August 22, 2007
Govt fighting 40 cases on six-lane approach road.

The new Bangalore international airport will probably be ready before time (scheduled for completion in April next year), but the modern access road to it will not, recreating the image of a journey done partly by bullock cart and partly by jet aircraft.

As things stand, travellers will take around two hours to reach the airport, which is 35 km away from the city centre, for at least a year after it starts functioning.

This is because of legal hurdles the government is facing in acquiring land for a 21-km dedicated expressway to the airport.

The government is fighting at least 40 different cases related to land acquisition.

To cut the journey time and derive full benefit from the state-of-the-art airport, the government decided to build six-lane toll expressway. The optimum alignment was worked out with the help of satellite imagery and a preliminary notification was issued on March 3 for land acquisition.

Residents of Bagalur, Bhairathi, Chikka Gubbi, Dodda Gubbi, private residential township developers and farmers filed cases in various courts seeking a change in the expressway alignment or denotification of their lands from acquisition.

Government sources said many powerful politicians also owned land along the alignment of the road and wanted it changed.

“We changed the alignment five times unofficially before freezing it. But they are still not satisfied. If the land acquisition process is completed by July, the expressway will be ready by March 2009 but that appears improbable. As things stand, the expressway will not be ready even by 2009-end,” a source said.

The road alignment has been marked physically. No real estate development will be allowed along the expressway till the project is completed. Of the 750 acres needed, just over 110 acres are in the government’s possession.

Recently, Deputy Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, who is also in charge of infrastructure development in the state, acknowledged that there were “stumbling blocks” in the way of the project . “We are committed to resolving them to implement the project,” he said.

At present, the upcoming Bangalore international airport at Devanahalli can be reached by travelling 28 km on the Bangalore-Hyderabad National Highway 7 from the city and then 4 km along an access road.

In view of the heavy traffic on the national highway and the resultant journey time required, the state government conceived the expressway.

The project is estimated to cost Rs 482 crore and 26 companies have submitted application for qualification. At present, the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA) and the Karnataka Road Development Corporation Ltd (KRDCL) are jointly handling the project.

The BMRDA intends to invite tenders to develop the road on a build-own-operate-transfer basis. Once completed, a high-speed rail link will also be set up along the expressway.

The Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) represents the first greenfield private sector-owned and operated airport in India. Private promoters hold a 74 per cent stake in BIAL and the remaining 26 per cent is held by the state.


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