Although the Airport Authority of India’s (AAI) technical team has finally zeroed in on the land to construct an international airport, the delay in land acquisition would, however, lead to a cost escalation. Last month, AAI officials visited the prospective site to conduct a feasibility study after which Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh confirmed that the land adjoining the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) developed by Bharat Forge in the south of Khed, has been decided upon and is suitable for constructing an international airport.
Deshmukh, however, also said that the state government has to shell out four times more money to acquire the land than its original cost after the Land Acquisition Bill was passed in the Parliament recently. “We have not calculated the total cost of the land yet, but we would have to definitely spend a hefty amount after the Land Acquisition Bill was passed in the Parliament,” said Deshmukh. He further stated that his department had not received the feasibility survey report yet.
Experts, however, said that this extra expenditure could have been avoided, if the government would have acted quickly and acquired the land for the airport earlier, instead of delaying the entire process. President of Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), SK Jain said that in the coming days not only the cost of the land would increase but also the cost of construction will rise. “The money for the project is not coming out from the state government’s pocket, but from the taxpayers’ pocket through various taxes they pay every year to the government,” said Jain. He added that MCCIA members had kept requesting the government officials throughout these years to acquire the land as soon as possible, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, a three-member delegation from MCCIA is seeking an appointment with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday to request him to speed up the land acquisition process. The delegation will comprise of Director General Anant Sardeshmukh, Jain, and MCCIA’s head of civil aviation committee, Air Marshall (retd) Bhushan Gokhale. “I met one of the members of the technical committee and according to him. the 2,500-hectare land, which the state government wants to acquire is perfect to construct the airport. However, our only concern is to speed up the process of acquiring the land,” said Air Marshall (retd) Gokhale.
In 2001, a plot in Chakan was identified for the construction of the international airport. But constant opposition by the villagers whose lands would be acquired for the project resulted in several delays. As per a report submitted on the ground survey, conducted by the IAF in 2005, Chakan was deemed unsuitable for the construction of an international airport
The area (in hectares) of the plot in south Khedwhere the new international airport might be constructed