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Jewar to take wing as ministry clears second NCR airport

NEW DELHI: The civil aviation ministry on Thursday cleared a proposal for a second international airport in Delhi-NCR that is likely to be built at Jewar in Greater Noida.

The new airport, according to the ministry needs 2,200 acres of land and will take around three to four years to build. The proposal was cleared at a meeting attended by officials from the ministry officials, Airports Authority of India, and other senior bureaucrats. It now needs the Cabinet’s approval to be taken forward.

The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority has also proposed to extend the Noida Metro line from Greater Noida to Jewar, a 48km corridor that needs an investment of Rs 2,000 crore.

TOI was the first to report last November that the Centre was likely to pick Jewar for the airport, even though the Akhilesh Yadav government in UP is keen on building an international airport between Agra and Mathura.

Jewar is around 100km from Delhi and was pitched as a site for an international airport when Mayawati was chief minister of UP. Over 2,000 acres of land was also acquired for the airport before the Akhilesh regime binned the idea in 2012. But Gautambudh Nagar MP Mahesh Sharma revived the Jewar project last year after he took charge as minister of state for civil aviation.

Sharma said on Thursday GMR group — the majority stakeholder in Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) that operates the IGI — will be approached first to build the Jewar airport. “The proposal (for the second airport) will soon be sent to the Cabinet for approval. GMR group is proposed to be accorded the right of first refusal with regard to the new project. It will have the first right to develop the project, if interested, before any other entity,” Sharma said.

The minister also said the government will amend a rule that doesn’t allow airports within 150km of each other. “Unless an existing airport is functioning beyond its operational capacity, existing rules do not allow a second airport to come up within a 150km radius of an existing one. For the new project, the government will be required to amend certain regulations,” Sharma said.

Airport sources, however, said the IGI is nowhere near saturation and had ample scope for future growth at the passenger as well as cargo terminals. “IGI Airport has a capacity of 62.5 million passengers against the traffic of 40.9 million it saw in 2014-15. The airport has a cargo capacity of 1.5 million tonnes but handled 0.7 million tonnes in 2014-15,” a source said