The state government has put the proposed international airport at Chakan on a fast track. The cabinet, in a late night decision on Wednesday, sanctioned Rs 200 crore for the project that will come up under public private partnership (PPP) model. "The money will be used by Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) as seed money for the project. The state government is extremely serious to see to it that the project sees the light of the day as soon as possible," said finance minister Dilip Walse-Patil. MADC is a special purpose vehicle company, floated by the state government in 2002. The Union government had already given necessary clearance for the project that requires about 3,000 hectares of land. It was learnt that district guardian minister Ajit Pawar had maintained during the cabinet meeting that the state government must provide necessary support for the project.
The city's industrial fraternity, especially Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (MCCIA) has welcomed the move of the state government to provide a substantial amount for the project. MCCIA director general Anant Sardeshmukh said the gesture would give a much-needed fillip to the project. "The money will enable MADC to raise capital from the market and start the process of land acquisition for the project. The state government should have acted earlier, but better late than never," observed chairman of the civil aviation committee of MCCIA, S K Jain. In a recent move, the state government decided to hand over the airport project to MADC from the Maharashtra Industrial Development (MIDC), which was earlier handling the project.Informed sources in the state civil aviation department said that the work on the project would commence soon with the land acquisition programme."MADC would now raise a loan of up to Rs700 crore using the Rs200 crore seed capital fund, which would be used for the land acquisition. It would then be given to private parties for development," said the official.MADC is the special purpose vehicle floated by the state government in 2002 to carry out airport development projects in Maharashtra. The Nagpur Cargo terminus has been developed by MADC.Estimated to cost Rs7,500 crore, a total of an approximately 7,500 acres is slated to be acquired for the project."Out of the 7,500 acres, around 4,000 acres would be utilised for the airport project whereas around 2,500 acres would be given over to private parties for the commercial exploitation. The remaining 1,000 acres would be utilised for the rehabilitation of the villagers in the area," said the senior official.
Once the land is acquired, it would take another 24 months to complete the project.Slated to be an international airport on the lines of the Hyderabad and Bangalore international airports, the Chakan terminal would be for both the passenger and freight movement.While the state government has provided the seed capital for the project, the remaining money would be raised from the private parties through various commercial initiatives in the area. Thus, the airport would be built on a public-private partnership.
The two villages in the area, namely – Shiroli and Chandus, have been earmarked as the proposed site. The state government had earlier issued notification for the land acquisition through MIDC.When contacted, Pune district collector Chandrakant Dalvi said, "We are waiting for further instructions from the state government before going ahead with the project."
Pune is currently dependent on the Lohegaon Airport, which has limitations for the expansion, as it is primarily an airport belonging to the Indian Air Force which has an important base in Pune.
The other factors preventing the expansion of the existing airport include the unavailability of space and the ongoing construction activity around the airport.Previously a second site at Saswad was suggested after the Indian Air Force objected to the Chakan site stating that the proposed plan of the runway was clashing with the flight path of the existing airport.
The Chakan site was subsequently cleared with modifications towards Rajgurunagar.