Maharashtra to develop 21 airports: minister

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government plans to develop at least 21 small airports in a phased manner as part of its 'Make In Maharashtra' campaign within four years so that commercial air services can be started, Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said here today.

Speaking to reporters, he said that a meeting to take stock of the functioning of all 28 airports in the state, including the biggest commercially operated airport in Mumbai, besides the ones in Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad, was held at the Mantralaya, adding, Chandrapur would also get a greenfield airport in the coming years.

"To boost our 'Make In Maharashtra' project, we have decided to connect industrial cities and district headquarters with air services. To achieve our target, airstrips at some small airports would be required to be extended by at least 1,500 metres, in order to ensure at least small aircraft can land there," he said.

He said that small aircraft need airstrips of at least 1,500 metres. Juhu airport in Mumbai, as well as airstrips in Akola, Yeotmal, Amravati, Dhule, Kolhapur and Ratnagiri have less than 1,500 metres of runway. These airstrips will be developed in a time-bound manner, he said.

"Though Juhu is an important airport, it cannot be used as an alternative to the Mumbai airport, since it has an airstrip of merely 113 metres due to which only nine-seater aircraft can use it," he said.

"Chandrapur has a 953-metre airstrip, but since the height of Chandrapur Thermal Power Project's chimney is of 272 metres, there are limitations in developing it and hence a new airport will be constructed near the city," he said.

He said that the state has decided to develop Yeotmal as a textile hub and that city would be included in the firstphase of airport development.

Another greenfield airport at Sindhudurg, with an airstrip of 3,170 metres is under consideration and it will be developed by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, he said.

The Maharashtra Airport Development Authority (MADC) is developing an airport with a 2,500 metres to 3,200 metres airstrip at Shirdi, while the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) of Maharashtra Ltd will develop a 3,700-metre international airport at Navi Mumbai on the PPP model, he said.

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