Land allotted for cargo complex, but still on paper
Despite getting the green light from the district collector for land acquisition, the proposed cargo complex near the Lohegaon airport is still waiting for take off, with the long-awaited project still on paper.
Recently, the district collector announced the allotment of eight acres of land to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) for the cargo complex. However, the Lohegaon Airport Authority has denied that they have been allotted any land, and has said the search for the land is still ongoing. At a recent press briefing, district collector Vikas Deshmukh said that they have identified and finalised the allocation of land, which is near to the airport.
“To avoid any future complications, we are not going to disclose the location of the reserved land. However, we have made sure that the land is not earmarked for any Pune Municipal Corporation projects or any other use.” Airport Director PSRK Sudhakar said, “The district collector has not allotted the land. He told us to identify suitable land. As there is no government land available near the airport, they suggested we identify private land near the airport.”
“Our demand was for 10 acres of land, five acres for the cargo complex and the rest for a residential complex for airport employees. During the meeting with the collector, we were requested to cut down our requirement for land, so we arrived at a decision to be granted three hectares (around eight acres). We are not in favour of acquiring private land because the paperwork and other formalities would be a long-drawn affair,” said Sudhakar.
The AAI has been demanding for adequate land near the airport since the past few years to facilitate the movement of international cargo. Currently, customs bonded trucks move all international cargo from the Inland Container Depot at Dighi, which is 15-km away from the Lohegaon airport, to the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) near Mumbai.
“The cargo complex would benefit various industries from the city, especially flower and agro products. Nearly 40 to 50 per cent load at the Mumbai port is from Pune, which would be shifted to the Pune airport. The land near the airport is either private or belongs to the defence agencies. So now we are trying to convince the owners to give up their land for the cargo complex,” said S K Jain, president, Maratha Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (MCCIA).