COVID-19 effect: Signing date of Jewar Airport's key pact deferred

Noida (UP), Jun 10 (PTI) In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Uttar Pradesh government has deferred the date of signing of a key pact for the Jewar airport with its developer to begin work on the Rs 29,560-crore project, according to an order.

The decision to defer the 'concession agreement' was taken by the state cabinet during a meeting in Lucknow on Tuesday.

'The signing of the concession agreement with selected developer Zurich Airport International AG has been extended by 45 days from resumption of India-Malaysia and India-Switzerland flights plus mandatory quarantine days or by August 17, whichever is earlier,' the order stated.

Officials said the Zurich airport has floated a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for implementing the project, which has three directors, one of whom lives in India while the other two are based in Malaysia and Switzerland, at its Asia office and headquarters respectively.

The state cabinet also authorised Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to take decisions from time to time regarding the international greenfield airport project, the order said.

According to the officials, the decision was taken in view of the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The concession agreement, in normal conditions, would have been signed by July 2 between the Uttar Pradesh government and the Yamuna International Airport Private Limited (YIAPL) -- an SPV floated by the Zurich airport for implementing the project, the officials said.

Shailendra Bhatia, Noida International Airport Limited's nodal officer for the Jewar airport, said the concession agreement was stipulated to be signed within 45 days of the security clearance for the project.

'The security clearance was received on May 18. Hence, the signing would have taken place maximum by July 2. However, due to the pandemic, the developer had requested the state government to extend the date of signing by 120 days. The signing has been deferred till August 17,' he told PTI.

Bhatia said the YIAPL has three directors, one of whom lives in India, while the other two are based in Malaysia and Switzerland.

'The presence of at least two directors is required for the signing of the agreement,' he said.

The officer added that in case the COVID-19 situation does not improve even in August, the state cabinet will review the circumstances and take an appropriate decision on the signing date of the agreement.

On November 29 last year, Swiss firm Zurich Airport International AG emerged as the highest bidder to develop the Jewar airport on the outskirts of Delhi in Gautam Buddh Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh, outbidding competitors such as Adani Enterprises, DIAL and Anchorage Infrastructure Investments Holdings Limited.

The entire project will be spread over 5,000 hectares and is estimated to cost Rs 29,560 crore, the officials said. Once completed, the airport, which will be the third in the National Capital Region (NCR) after Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport and Ghaziabad's Hindon Airport, is touted to have six to eight runways, the highest in the country, they said.

The first phase of the airport would be spread over 1,334 hectares and is expected to be completed by 2023 at a cost of Rs 4,588 crore, the officials said.

Meanwhile, property consultant CBRE said the Jewar airport is amongst the largest planned infrastructure projects in India and also the largest airport development initiative in the country, which will not only strengthen regional, national and international connectivity, but also act as a catalyst for a well-rounded and comprehensive real estate development along the Yamuna Expressway and surrounding regions.

'From a real estate perspective, the proposed international airport (and other infrastructure initiatives planned alongside) and abundant land availability offer several opportunities for developers and investors -- residential projects, commercial complexes, industrial and warehousing facilities and manufacturing hubs,' Anshuman Magazine, chairman and CEO - India, South East Asia, Middle East and Africa, CBRE, said.

He said a new metro rail corridor, the Yamuna Expressway, the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and the planned rapid rail network will also play a major role in improving the accessibility of this region from all parts of NCR.

'Last but not the least, it will also lead to rapid employment generation in and around Jewar and other nearby places. All these factors make it one of the most landmark planned infrastructure initiatives in India,' he added. PTI KIS RC