When civil aviation minister for state announced that the Bihar government was in the process of acquiring 200 acres for the expansion of Gaya airport and would soon hand over the land to AAI, land owners of three villages of the state started to block the project plan.
The ten-year old expansion plan of Gaya airport and its runway to accommodate A-310 aircraft is being objected by the villagers again. The expansion project has seen a prolonged delay right from its inception, related mainly to land issues between the state government and AAI.
The existing runway is capable to take type A-320 of planes with 140 passenger capacity, an official from AAI said. To expand the domestic airport and convert in to an international level is what AAI plans. But due to the land cost issues raised between the government and the AAI as well as the protest of the villagers asking higher compensation the project is in limbo.
Meanwhile, the statement of KC Venugopal on the land allotment of 200 acres to the AAI from the state government looks quite contrary as the state and the AAI have not come to a conclusion of the 200 acres as mentioned by the minister. Both the state and the Authority have not come in to any agreement on the additional land of 100 acres and its cost.
“Bihar is in the process of acquiring only 100 acres and not 200 acres”, said the state government official to Projectmonitor. The state has asked AAI to induce the land bill, whereas the Authority is very clear on getting the land free of cost from the state government. Earlier, as AAI had received land free of cost from the other state governments like Tamil Nadu for is expansion projects; it insists the same procedure from Bihar also.
Through sources it is learnt that both the state and the AAI, in 2008, had come to an agreement of sharing the land price equally, for which the current estimation is about Rs.12 crore for 100 acres. But when contacted, officials of both the state government and AAI did not comment on the above matter. But with the ministry’s remark on free land, the state and the Authority are likely to get in to another fresh round of idea conflict.
According to sources from the district administration, Bihar has acquired about 100 acres of land which falls on the Bodh Gaya side of the airport and is facing some issues with the remaining land that falls on the Cherki side of the airport.
But come what may, villagers are seeking a higher compensation in terms of prices, airport jobs, profit sharing arrangement. Due to this, a sum of Rs.10-crore which is kept aside for the payment to the land owners is lying in the Gaya treasury unutilised.
As per the AAI Plan, the Gaya airport is to be developed as standby for Kolkata airport for emergency landing, as Gaya airport with an area of 971 acres is nearly four times the Patna airport