Punjab cabinet on Monday gave a formal approval to the state and central government’s proposal to set up an international civil terminal at Air Force Station Halwara. It also pledged to give away 135.54 acres land free of cost for the project. The Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, also gave go-ahead for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for the same. A spokesperson of the chief minister’s office said that the civil terminal would be developed jointly by the AAI and the Government of Punjab through a Joint Venture Company (JVC) to be constituted for the purpose. While AAI would have majority stake of 51 percent, the Punjab government, through the Greater Ludhiana Development Authority (GLADA), will have 49 percent stake in the project. The state Government would provide 135.54 acres of land free of cost to the JVC by the way of its equity in the project. The capital expenditure on development of the new airport would be borne by AAI, whereas the expenditure on the operation, maintenance and repairs would be taken care of by the JVC. According to the spokesperson, the first phase of the project, which will include development of a new international civil enclave over an area of 135.54 acres for full-fledged operations up to Code-4C type aircraft, is likely to be completed within three years. The project, aimed at giving a fillip to the economic development of Punjab’s business and industrial hub of Ludhiana, also fulfills a long-pending demand of the Ludhiana-based industry, which the chief minister has now acceded. Notably, Ludhiana is Punjab’s largest industrial and business city with a population of nearly two million, which is presently serviced by a small airport at Sahnewal under the operational control of AAI, which runs RCS-UDAN flights to Delhi. Ludhiana also has the advantage of being at the geographical centre of Punjab. With the length of the runway at the present airport being limited, it only allows for operation of small aircrafts which severely limits air connectivity. Moreover, as the city has grown significantly around the airport, acquisition of additional land and expansion of the existing airport at Sahnewal is not feasible.
Source: The Times of India