NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may differ politically, but their governments at the Centre and state have reached a common ground to resolve the issues surrounding Patna airport.
As part of the solution, a new terminal will be built at the existing airport in Patna in the first phase and the airport, in the second and final phase, will be eventually shifted to an Air Force base in Bihta near Patna, where the state government will acquire 70 acres of land.
The central government will invest Rs 1,200 crore in building terminals at both the existing and the proposed airport. While the new terminal at the existing airport is likely to come by 2018-19, the new terminal at the Bihta airport is likely to come by 2019-20.
Patna, along with Jammu and Leh airports, have been termed unsafe for flight operations by the aviation regulator and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has raised concerns over it in its audit.
The process to build the new terminal will begin immediately after the state government provides land near the existing airport. There’s nothing that can be done to expand the runway at the existing airport and the airport will eventually be shifted to an Air Force base in Bihta. The state government will send a proposal now,” said a senior aviation ministry official, who did not want to be identified.
The plan was decided after aviation secretary RN Choubey, Joint Secretary (airports) Arun Kumar and Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman S Raheja met Bihar’s chief secretary and other state officials in Patna.
According to the plan, the state government will provide about 10 acres of land near the existing airport to build the new terminal. “The state government owns about 10 acres of land near the existing airport. This land will be given to AAI in a swap deal, wherein the airport operator will give the state government a 10 acre land parcel inside the city for the land near the airport. AAI will build a new terminal with a capacity of 3.0 million passengers per annum,” said the official.
The capacity of the existing terminal at Patna airport is 0.5 million passengers per annum and the airport witnessed a 32% surge in the total number of passengers travelling during April-February 2015-16 compared with the same period a year ago. The airport is also likely to cross the annual 1.5 million passenger limit to become a major airport (according to rules, any airport that caters to over 1.5 million passengers annually becomes a major airport).
Under the second phase, the airport will be shifted to Bihta airbase. “The state government will acquire 70 acres of land near the Bihta airbase to construct a new terminal for passengers. The state government will also have to widen connecting roads to the proposed airport,” said the senior official. The Bihta airbase has a 9,000 feet runway and is spread across an area of 9,000 acres.