Work on Raichur airport will begin this year, says Minister

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Bengaluru, Mar 10 (PTI): Work on the Raichur airport would begin during the year after the Airport Authority of India (AAI) inspects and submits its report, the Karnataka government informed the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.

'In the 2020-21 budget, the airport at Raichur was announced, and a 400-acre land acquired for the purpose. Once the airport comes up, it can provide for operation of aircraft with a maximum of 20 seats,' Primary and Secondary Education Minister Suresh Kumar told the Assembly during Question Hour.

Responding on behalf of Infrastructure Development Minister Anand Singh, he said the nodal agency has been fixed for the project and Karnataka State Small Industries Development Corporation (KSSIDC) would do the job.

'During this month of March, a team from AAI will do the inspection and once it submits the report, we will take further action. It is our decision to begin the work during this year itself,' he said.

The Kalyana Karnataka Region Development Board (KKRDB) has already released Rs 11.44 crore for the purpose, he said.

The Minister was responding to a question by Raichur Rural MLA Basanagouda Daddal, who sought to know from the government about funds not being allocated for the airport project in the budget despite the government claiming that the work on the project would begin during the current year.

Also, Daddal noted that it has been a long-standing demand and not having an airport has affected the prospects of the districts with industries not coming in.

Intervening, Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi, who is also the Minister in-charge of the district, said he has discussed with the Chief Minister regarding funds for the project.

He said that after discussing with MLAs from the district, about Rs 50 crore from KKRDB has been set aside for the airport work, along with about Rs 12 crore that was released.

'We have informed the Chief Minister we will get the DPR (detailed project report) ready, call for tender and begin the work during the year and requested that the remaining funds be granted during the next budget,' he said, while pointing at budgetary constraints this year due to COVID-19.

The government has mentioned some technical issues with the land acquired for the purpose as industrial chimneys of Yermarus Thermal Power Station were coming up nearby, said Congress MLA Priyank Kharge.

Until AAI gives technical clearance for the runway, the airport cannot happen, clearance by DGCA is also required, which would take time, the MLA said.

He raised objections to funds from KKRDB being utilised for the project and demanded the government to pitch in, which was supported by several other Congress legislators.

Responding to this, Savadi said the decision to use KKRDB funds was taken after consent of all legislators from the district and questioned whether MLAs who were objecting don't want an airport in Raichur, and pointed out that those objecting belong to other districts which have airports. PTI KSU NVG NVG