Thursday, February 28, 2008

‘Land sharks, politicians took airport far away’

‘Land sharks, politicians took airport far away’
Author: Savie Karnel Date: 28 Feb 2008
Mid-day

Transparency International believes fliers are in for a hard time, and wants aviation minister to probe shifting of airport from Bangalore to Devanahalli


LISTEN UP: M F Saldanha (above) feels the new airport should be connected to the HAL airport through monorail file pics

Land sharks took the airport 60 km away from the city, and politicians colluded with them, an international corruption watchdog is convinced.

Transparency International believes real estate speculators made a killing by getting the airport shifted away from Bangalore to Devanahalli.

Justice M F Saldanha, Transparency International chairman in India, has urged civil aviation minister Praful Patel to hold an inquiry into why the airport was built so far from the city.

Saldanha has asked the minister not to inaugurate the airport without first making sure it has the necessary infrastructure. He has also urged the minister to retain the HAL airport for domestic flights.

Faraway flights

“When the whole world is striving to bring facilities closer to people, we are taking it far away. This decision was taken by governments certainly to benefit some land sharks and corrupt politicians,”
Saldanha told MiD DAY.

Saldanha feels the infrastructure to the airport is not ready and will make people waste a long time in transit.

“Ultimately, this will drive people away from Bangalore. People will prefer other cities to set up businesses or hold meetings,” he said.

He has urged the minister to retain the HAL airport for domestic flights. “It makes no sense travelling for three hours to the airport and then taking a flight to Chennai. One may as well take a train. Moreover, the new airport will levy heavy taxes,” he said.

Mall a waste

HAL is a public sector company, and the existing infrastructure will go waste if the airport is shifted, he
said.

“The HAL authorities are thinking of converting the airport into a shopping mall to make use of the infrastructure. Since the airport was built with public money, it is not right to use it for some other purpose,” he said.

Connect them

He suggests the HAL airport be connected to the new BIAL airport through monorail.
“Kuala Lumpur covers 98 km in 20 minutes. It doesn’t take long to build a monorail system, and it can be done on a build-operate-transfer basis,” he said.

Saldanha plans to hold public protests and garner support for the cause. “Many feel this way,”
he said.
Take a chopper

Kingfisher Airlines vice-chairman Capt Gopinath was one of the main crusaders for the retention of HAL airport for domestic flights.

He recently told MiD DAY that he had lost hopes the government would listen to him.

“They have signed some agreements with BIAL, and will stick to it. It is best we stopped fighting for it and looked for options to make travel easier to Devanahalli,” he said.

Capt Gopinath plans to offer helicopter services from Bangalore to Devanahalli.

“We will pick people from somewhere in the centre of the city and ferry them to the new airport,” he said.

1 Comments:

At Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 8:36:00 PM GMT+5:30, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the short haul guys take to train or bus so much the better. Saves on global warming and is much much friendlier on earth. Don't let your heart bleed for those who fly, think of the guys who take the train and help make their lives better. The IT lot and their city connect friends will solve the problems themselves having been hoist by their own petard of PPP and sacrosanctcy of business agreements. Why renege on a business promise? Isn't this the way to bring in megabucks for development and quit whining. For heavens sake the earth won't fall if you have to spend an extra hour to catch your flight.

 

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