Mumbai : In a major decision, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Monday directed the MIDC to take back Yavatmal airport from the Reliance Airport Developers Pvt. Ltd. He also said that the state government would cancel all the contracts with the company to develop five airports in the state.

“The state wants to expedite process to initiate commercial flight operations from all the 21 existing airports in the state and is ready to re-examine the lease agreements. If we find companies who have been leased the airports are not interested in developing them, the lease would be cancelled,” the minister said after heading a meeting regarding development of airports.

The Reliance Airport Developers is operating Latur, Osmanabad, Nanded and Baramati airports apart from Yavatmal on a 95-year lease. Incidentally, these airports are located in the bastions of powerful politicians in the previous government — Sharad Pawar (Baramati), Padamsinh Patil (Osmanabad), Ashok Chavan (Nanded), Vilasrao Deshmukh (Latur) and Manikrao Thakre (Yavatmal).

Mungantiwar also directed officials to transfer some of the land of Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Agricultural University to the Akola airport. Additional 34 acres of land should be acquired from private owners by mutual understanding, he directed.

The Amravati airport is being developed by the Airport Authority of India Ltd. Issues related to the highway and a high tension line are causing delay in the work. A meeting under Union Minister Nitin Gadkari would soon be called to sort out the issues, Mungantiwar said, adding  new tender notices need to be floated within a month for development of airport at Chandrapur.

The state plans to develop 21 out of 28 small airports in a phased manner as part of ‘Make In Maharashtra’ campaign within four years. For this, airstrips would be required to be extended by at least 1,500 metres.

Another greenfield airport at Sindhudurg, with an airstrip of 3,170 metres will be developed by the MIDC on a PPP model, he said. The Maharashtra Airport Development Authority is developing an airport at Shirdi, while the CIDCO of Maharashtra Ltd will develop a 3,700-metre international airport at Navi Mumbai.

abhijit mulye

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