Monday, April 15, 2024
North East

Controversy over construction of airport in Assam’s Cachar district

Silchar, June 11: Controversy has arisen over the Assam government’s efforts to acquire land for setting up a greenfield airport in Cachar district with the Centre claiming that no such proposal has been received for the facility from the BJP-led dispensation in the Northeastern state.
The district administration issued a clarification on Friday following a reply by Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia to a letter written by TMC Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev.
The Union minister stated that till date the ministry has received ”no proposal to construct a greenfield airport in Cachar district of Assam. However, if any such proposal from any airport developer or the state government is received, the same would be considered as per the Greenfield Airports Policy, 2008.”
Greenfield airport means a new airport that is built from scratch on a new location because the existing facility is unable to meet the projected traffic requirements.
Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) Pankaj Kumar Deka said in a statement that the entire process of land acquisition for the construction of the airport at Doloo was done following due procedure.
“There are many questions being raised on the proposed airport at Doloo. It is again informed to all concerned that this particular land was taken up as per the instructions received from the state government following due procedure. The land in question was supposed to be handed over free of encumbrance.
“It is in the final stage of execution and stakeholders are requested to kindly cooperate”, the statement said.
He clarified that the Government of Assam (GoA) is acquiring land from its fund for the development of an airport.
The completion of the formalities would lead to further steps which will be taken by both the state and central governments.
The Assam government and the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) are in constant touch for the last three years over the issue and a team of the Airport Authority of India had first visited the proposed spot in January 2020 for site inspection, Deka said.
Quoting Clause 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3 of the Greenfield Airport Act, 2008, the official stated, “in the North-Eastern areas, where it may not be feasible to follow the PPP route, AAI could set up Greenfield Airports by itself, as may be approved by the Government on a case to case basis…. in north-eastern states the government can allot land to private companies/AAI for the setting up of an airport and vice-versa.”
Moreover, according to Clause 5.4, the government can give land to the authority without charging any money to facilitate the development of a Greenfield Airport, he said,
The official stated that everything was going on smoothly as per rules and requested the public not to panic and urged all stakeholders to co-operate.
The Silchar airport at Kumbhirgram is a defence airport and hence there are limitations in its expansion. Pressure has increased on Silchar Airport with the neighbouring states of Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram, and Meghalaya depending on it.
”This is one of the prime reasons why the Barak Valley needs a good airport. Apart from this, the new airport will also bring in job opportunities for many and usher in overall development”, the official added.
Land acquisition of Doloo Tea Estate for the construction of the greenfield airport had led to protests by the tea garden workers but the government had assured them that they will not lose their jobs and none will be evicted from their homes due to the construction of the facility.
Dev alleged that Silchar Lok Sabha MP Rajdeep Roy had misled the members at an all-party meeting on the issue of the greenfield airport and it is “bizarre that over 30 lakh tea bushes have been cut to clear land”.
The Rajya Sabha MP demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter as this appears to be a case of large-scale corruption”.
Roy had said that this was not an eviction drive but only a land acquisition process which is going on for an important infrastructural project in Barak Valley that has been neglected for a long time.
Only 2,500 bighas of land are being used for the airport while the rest of the land will be used for planting more trees and the management of the Doloo Tea Estate has given its consent to the district administration regarding this, he said. (PTI)