Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday claimed that land acquisition has to be completed by the state government before sending a formal proposal to the Centre for developing a greenfield airport.
He said that Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M Scindia’s letter stating that no proposal has been received for a greenfield airport in Cachar district has been “wrongly understood by some people”.
The chief minister told reporters here, “The state government has to complete the land acquisition before formally submitting the proposal for the greenfield airport”.
Sarma said he had held discussions with the Union minister about setting up a greenfield airport at Silchar in the Cachar district.
The details of the discussion are in the minutes of the meeting, he claimed.
A controversy has arisen over the efforts by the Assam government to acquire land for setting up the airport with the Centre claiming that no such proposal has been received for the facility from the BJP-led dispensation in the north-eastern state.
On Scindia’s reply to a letter by Trinamool Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev wherein he stated that till date the ministry has received ”no proposal to construct a greenfield airport in Cachar District of Assam’, Sarma claimed that it has not been properly understood.
“How can the government submit a proposal for an airport on the land until it has acquired it?” he asked.
The Union minister had said in his response that “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 the scratch on a new location because the existing facility is unable to meet the projected traffic requirements.
Sarma said the land acquisition process was on and it would be wrong to say that dwellers in this land were being “evicted’.
“There is no eviction, that is a wrong way of putting it. It is just like people clearing land for any developmental project,” he said.
The acquisition of land at Doloo Tea Estate for the construction of the greenfield airport had led to protests by tea garden workers but the government had assured them that no worker would be evicted from his home and there would be no job cuts.
The state Cabinet had earlier decided to pay a total sum of Rs 12.63 crore to 1,263 families of the workers of the Doloo Tea Estate as a goodwill gesture for their cooperation in the development of the airport.
The state government had previously also announced a compensation of Rs 50 crore for the acquisition of land at Doloo, Lalbagh, and Mainagarh tea gardens for setting up the greenfield airport and had already released Rs 2.37 crore as the first installment.
The Cachar district administration had on Friday issued a press statement maintaining that the state government was acquiring the land for the construction of the airport and the process was going on smoothly.
It had stated that the state government and the Ministry of Civil Aviation were in constant touch for the last three years over the issue.