Four years after it failed to attract any taker to develop an international airport in Kushinagar, the UP government has received as many as 32 applications for the Expressions of Interest (EoI) floated last month for the project. The applications have come after the government reduced the cost of the project as well relaxed its norms.
An enthusiastic government has now called for a meeting of interested players with the officials of Union Ministry of Civil Aviation and Planning Commission in New Delhi on July 13. The Government of India has already accorded the required initial clearances to the project.
The infrastructure companies that have shown interest in the project include Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd, DS Construction, TATA Realty and Infrastructure Ltd, and WelsInfratech Limited. Significantly, GVK and GMR, which are already into construction of airports, have stayed away from bidding.
A senior government officer informed that the companies showed interest not only when the government reduced the cost of the project — from Rs 600 crore to Rs 350 crore — but also removed the criteria under which only companies with experience in airport construction could apply. Under the new project, the developer would be required to develop the terminal building in phases and raise its capacity in keeping with the footfall. “In the new EoI, we have allowed companies that are engaged in core infrastructure projects like expressways, power plants, ports, etc, said the officer.
After the July 13 meeting, the state government plans to approach the Union Ministry of Economic Affairs to get a Viability Gap Funding upto Rs 70 crore for the project.
The Kushinagar airport project was conceived in 2008 as part of integrated development of Buddhist circuit in Eastern UP. When the tender for the project was first floated in the same year, both GVK and GMR along with L&T and Gammon India showed interest but later these companies did not turn up — reportedly on account of “non-viability” of the project.