State plans international airport in Meerut

Ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, the state government plans to build an international airport in Meerut to manage the spurt of air traffic to the National Capital Region.

The proposed airport will also cater to the industrial towns in western Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Uttarakhand.

The state Civil Aviation department has already conducted a study of the area's traffic density, following which the Ministry of Civil Aviation has given its "in-principle" approval to the project.

The state government has made the Meerut Development Authority (MDA) the nodal agency for the project.

The Vice-chairman of MDA, Ram Nawal Singh, said the airport will be constructed on the PPP model using the Design, Built, Finance, Operation and Transfer method. The existing airstrip on Partapur highway will also be incorporated into it.

"We will soon select a consultant for the project. After that, we will invite bids for the selection of the developer. The whole process may take six to eight months," Singh said.

The airport will help connect western UP to the entire country and also be ideal for international Haj flights. Meerut and surrounding districts like Bulandshahr, Baghpat, Saharanpur, Muzzafarnagar, Aligarh and Bareilly see a large number of people going for Haj.

"For western UP, the nearest airport is New Delhi it is a three-to-four hour drive. Even for Uttrakhand, the nearest airport is New Delhi," said Singh.

The Civil Aviation department has kept aside Rs 73 crore for the acquisition of land for the airport.

Once the necessary clearances from Air Force, Forests and Environment and Civil Aviation ministries are in place, the process of land acquisition will begin. "We hope that by year-end, we will get all the clearances," said a senior official.

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