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Hooda effect
Haryana forces stake in Mohali airport
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Minutes before the Punjab government was to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Airport Authority of India (AAI) through the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) for the building of an international airport terminal at Mohali, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda threw a spanner demanding the inclusion of his state as a partner in the project.

To ward off an ugly situation, union minister for civil aviation Praful Patel prevailed upon Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to make Haryana a partner in the project, leading to last-minute changes in the MoU that now lists both Punjab and Haryana as equal partners in the project.

Further Hooda sought a categorical assurance from the union minister that the international airport, which is an upgradation of the Chandigarh Airport, will not be renamed and will retain its name as the Chandigarh International Airport. After signing the modified MoU at the Punjab Bhawan on which Haryana too put its signatures, Patel made a categorical statement that the airport would be called “Chandigarh International Airport” and nothing else.

Badal, who has been touting the setting up an international airport at Mohali as the beginning of his government election promises made to the people of Punjab in the party’s manifesto, said, “We want an international airport at Mohali; we leave the related issues to Patel to deal with”.

Countering the allegation of Haryana having sabotaged the project conceived, developed and pursued by none other than SAD working president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Badal Senior tried to underplay the development by saying, “It is good for us that the project continues to remain in Mohali, but we will have to spend only Rs 200 crore as the Haryana government will now chip in a similar amount of money. We stand to gain by the entire exercise”.

Smelling a political conspiracy behind the move, other SAD-BJP leaders present at the function were, however, more direct in their response. They said the Congress leadership in Punjab was behind the move as they wanted to deny the whole credit for the international airport to the SAD-BJP government. In fact, a few months ago Punjab had made an open offer to Haryana, Chandigarh Administration and Himachal Pradesh to be equal partners in the project as these states would benefit equally from the presence of an airport in the area. Himachal Pradesh and UT participated in a meeting with the Punjab chief secretary, while Haryana refused to be partner in the project.

Patel, who had by now sensed the mood of the partner states, mentioned that everyone would benefit from the airport. He added that since the union government could not implement all projects on its own, it welcomed the participation of more states. He said that the airport terminal project would be completed in one year.

Specifying the terms of the MoU, Patel said the AAI would have a stake of 51 per cent, while in the remaining 49 per cent would be shared between Punjab and Haryana.

Commenting on the development, Sukhbir Badal said, “Nothing has changed. The land location remains the same, the cargo and passenger terminals too will be in the same place. We don’t mind if Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh want to be partners. It will only help reduce the financial burden on the state”.

Making his speech Badal Sr asked Patel to upgrade terminals at the three existing airports in Punjab at Sahnewal (Ludhiana), Adampur and Bathinda. He also requested the union minister to help Punjab set up an aviation training academy at Patiala.

Significantly, leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, with other ministers of the SAD-BJP alliance, was present on the occasion.



Chandigarh airport to be expanded
Tribune News Service

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal lights the lamp at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the extension of the Chandigarh Airport terminal
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal lights the lamp at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the extension of the Chandigarh Airport terminal. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, January 4
Even as the ceremony was on to lay the foundation stone for expanding the existing terminal building of the Chandigarh airport, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda today demanded, and later got it, that its expansion should include Haryana as a partner.

The foundation stone was laid to expand the existing airport terminal at Chandigarh to accommodate more civilian aircraft and more number of passengers with more area and modern facilities. This is entirely separate from the upcoming international terminal that will have an entry from the Mohali side, and it was in this international terminal that Hooda demanded Haryana’s inclusion.

Punjab had originally invited all neighbouring states to be partner in the airport, but that had elicited no response. Officials were taken aback at Hooda’s sudden demand as the land for the terminal falls in Punjab and even the entry will be from the Mohali side. Hooda had insisted that this tri-city area, Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula, should be seen as one entity for developing infrastructure.

Hooda, along with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, union civil aviation minister Parful Patel, union minister of state for finance Pawan Bansal and Punjab Governor S.F. Rodrigues (retd), attended the foundation-laying ceremony.

Meanwhile, once the existing terminal is expanded, it will cater to 400 passengers at a time at an estimated cost of Rs 80 crore.

The new world-class terminal building will be spread over an area of 12,150 sq m and will be centrally air-conditioned with all modern passenger-friendly facilities, which include passenger boarding bridges with a visual docking guidance system, escalators, elevators, in-line baggage conveyor system in the arrival as well as departure hall, CCTV and car parking facilities.

The Chandigarh airstrip belongs to the IAF and AAI maintains a civil air terminal. The existing terminal building has a capacity to cater to 200 passengers and apron to park two aircraft of the of airbus 320 and 1 ATR-72 type of aircraft.

Now when the new building is completed, the AAI will accommodate four airbus 320 type of aircraft.



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