State Budget sends city's 2nd airport dreams crashing

Mar 27, 2012, 07:35 IST | Priyankka Deshpande

State Finance Minister Ajit Pawar allots Rs 480 crore to be shared with other cities for airport development; experts say even land acquisition for proposed Chakan international airport can't be started with given funds.

State Finance Minister Ajit Pawar allots Rs 480 crore to be shared with other cities for airport development; experts say even land acquisition for proposed Chakan international airport can't be started with given funds.

Funds allotted for the proposed Chakan international airport in the State Budget presented yesterday by Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar were grossly insufficient, said industrialists and experts.

The city was left to share a kitty of Rs 480 crore with other places for the development of airports. Experts fear that in such a scenario, the funds are insufficient to even start the land acquisition process for the Chakan international airport.     

Not taking off soon: The land identified for the Chakan airport. Experts
say Rs 200 crore would be required to just kick off the project, which
now seems unlikely. Pic/Navnath Kaple

Even after assurances made by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan as well as Pawar to the Airport Advisory Council (AAC) regarding the second airport, the city has got a raw deal.

The Rs 480 crore for airport development was jointly allocated for the city and places like Kolhapur, Amravati, Ratnagiri and, more importantly, for the Multi-Modal International Cargo Hub and Airport Nagpur (MIHAN) project. 

Reacting on the budgetary provision for the international airport in Chakan, Anant Sardeshmukh, executive director general of Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), said that since MIHAN would need a large chunk of the budgetary provision, there was a question mark over the share of the funds the city would get.

Finance Minister Ajit Pawar, who in his Budget yesterday allotted just Rs
480 crore for airport development at various places in the state.
Pic/Navnath Kaple

"We were expecting that separate funds would be provided for land acquisition for the establishment of the international airport in the city. Though Rs 480 crore has been announced in this year's Budget, the city of Pune has to share these funds along with other cities for the development of airports," Sardeshmukh said. "A minimum of Rs 200 crore is essential to kick off this project, and the same is not guaranteed in the State Budget."

Former president of MCCIA Mukesh Malhotra said: "Initially Rs 200 crore is required to start the project, but the amount is not enough in any case."

He added that two years ago the then chief minister Ashok Chavan had promised Maharashtra Airport Development Company Ltd (MADC) the allocation of funds required for the international airport, but MADC did not get the amount.

"As Deputy CM didn't disclose how much amount Pune will get of the Rs 480 crore, we are really doubtful the project will start," Malhotra said. 

District Collector Vikas Deshmukh said that as soon as the funds provision would be made, the land acquisition procedures would be started.

"When the provision will be made, MADC will give its proposal and then we will start the process of land acquisition," Deshmukh said. 

Other features
The Budget for 2012-13 also imposed taxes on sales of items like beedis, dry fruits and LPG for domestic use and increased levies on diesel cars and jeeps.

Calling the budget a mixed bag, Poona Merchant Chamber president Ajit Setiya said: "Increase in LPG and tax on diesel and petrol vehicles is a blow for the common man."

He added that loan exemption subsidy should have been given on fertilisers to increase production and crop yield.

At the same time, Setiya welcomed the Finance Minister's decision to keep aside the budget amount for infrastructural expenditure like electrification of agricultural pumps and police modernisation. 

BJP MLA Girish Bapat said all cities in the state had got nothing from the Budget except more taxes.

"All the developmental plans that had been presented in last year's Budget remained only on paper. In last year's Budget, the promise to keep Rs 2,000 crore aside for Vidarbha region was made, but it has been found that only Rs 29 crore was spent on Vidarbha," he said.

Bapat said while Pawar did not make any provision for the city in the present Budget, he increased the price of LPG, which would now compel the BJP to protest against the decision.

MNS state general secretary Anil Shidore said that there was nothing special about the Budget.

"It is just an ordinary Budget which couldn't made any provisions in any sector. The government had promised
to make the state self-reliant in the energy sector but has kept only Rs 1,500 crore for it, which can result in the production of only 300 megawatt of energy. This will not be sufficient for the state," said Shidore.

He added that taking into consideration the speedy expand of the city; the budget completely ignored the public transport system, which is already in poor condition in the city.

Ups and downs after Budget
Prices increased: Beedis, readymade clothes, petrol and diesel cars, LPG, plaster of Paris
Prices reduced: Commodities made of bamboo, sanitary napkins, dry fruits, yarn

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