After a hiatus of almost 16 years since the project was first mooted by the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Rajnath Singh in 2001, the greenfield Jewar international airport (then named the Taj International Airport and Aviation Hub), is back in the reckoning. CM Yogi Adityanath has asked senior officers to revive the project and take up the issue with the Centre.
Speaking to FE after a meeting, a senior Cabinet minister said that the CM has instructed all officials concerned to coordinate with the civil aviation ministry to get necessary approvals so that the project is completed at the earliest.
“The project is crucial because it will help in bringing investment, setting up industries and creating jobs in the region along the Yamuna Expressway,” the minister said, adding that with this missive, there are visible signs of the project finally seeing the light of day.
With a Bharatiya Janata Party government in power both at the Centre and the state, senior government officials seemed hopeful that the project would finally become a reality soon.
It may be noted that the project has gone through a tumultuous time, its fate uncertain with every change of government in the state.
While the project was first mooted by Singh, the UPA government at the Centre did not show any keenness for it. In fact, the project had also been given a techno-feasibility approval back in 2003, but with the Delhi airport being handed over to private hands at that time, the GMR group-backed Delhi International Airport (DIAL) floated the argument that the new airport would take away a majority of its air traffic.
In fact, the then attorney-general of India told the Centre that setting up a greenfield airport in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, would clearly violate the agreement signed between the GMR group-led consortium upgrading the capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and the ministry of civil aviation. This effectively put the the then `5,000-crore Taj International Aviation Hub at Jewar in Greater Noida in cold storage.
After coming to power, even the Mayawati government pushed hard for it. In a fresh round of attempts to revive the project, the Uttar Pradesh government had even affirmed that it would accept and abide by all the contractual agreements that have been entered into by the Centre. Pushing the case for the airport, Mayawati had said that due to its proximity to the national capital, Noida attracts a lot of attention and investments. With these facilities, the area would become a special attraction for entrepreneurs. She had even pressed all the 18 sitting Members of Parliament at that time to take up the Jewar international airport issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a bid to give a fresh fillip to one of its most ambitious projects.
Stating the proximity of the Jewar airport to the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and the Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor, the MPs had stressed that once the airport comes into existence, it would provide multi-modal connectivity to the entire region, which would go a long way to help import-export activities.
They had also stated that the construction of another airport near the IGI would not hamper the traffic flow at IGI, as the techno-economic feasibility study commissioned by the state government had stated that if the Jewar aiport is built, the number of passengers per year in the NCR region in 2012 would be 103 million, of which 91 million would be DIAL’s and 12 million would be Jewar airport’s share. Similarly, by 2021, the annual passenger traffic was expected to swell to 161 million, of which 25 million would go to Jewar, while 136 million would go DIAL’s way.
“This was way beyond DIAL’s assumption of 100 million passengers per year. The traffic was expected to grow beyond all expectations and to ease the traffic congestion, there was an urgent need to develop another airport on the lines of second airports in all important cities of the world,” the MPs argued.