ITANAGAR, May 10: More than a decade after the foundation stone was laid for construction of greenfield airport, the Pema Khandu cabinet has approved recommendations for airport at Hollongi.
This followed the submission of report by the Committee under the chairmanship of Nabam Rebia, minister for Land Management.
The report details the status of ownership of land measuring 948.56 acres at Hollongi for construction of the airport as sought by the central government, said a government statement.
The cabinet said report would be submitted to the Central Government “paving way for early realization of the dream project”.
Whether the dream project will finally take off or remain a fantasy as it has been for the last one decade depends entirely how serious the centre and state government are.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) was reported to have completed the master plan and detailed report was being prepared in 2014 when one controversial decision after the other put a halt to the entire process.
Hollongi was not the first choice for the green field airport. In 2007, Karsingsa was first recommended and then Home Minister Shivraj Patil had laid the foundation stone in 2007 on statehood day.
However, due to technical issues and cost effectiveness, the Central Technical Committee, Ministry of Civil Aviation in its joint inspection report recommended Hollongi as the feasible site.
The state Cabinet in its meeting on July 18, 2017 approved the Central Technical Committees recommendation for Hollongi as the feasible site for the greenfield airport.
The acceptance and approval of Hollongi as the airport site by the state government was reportedly communicated to the Civil Aviation ministry, Director General of Civil Aviation and AAI.
In June 2017, the Itanagar bench of Gauhati High Court had dismissed a 2015 PIL to make way for construction of greenfield airport at Hollongi.
The 2015 PIL was filed alleging that the proposed airport site at Hollongi was under reserve forest and the land acquired from the Chakma refugees belonged to government and hence, no compensation could be paid.
Insiders say that many local politicians bought land in the proposed site in anticipation of compensation complicating the matter further. Now, it remains to be seen whether the state and centre would actually take the process of building the long awaited airport ahead as some of those who would benefit from the compensation are nemesis of the state government, including APCC president Takam Sanjoy, who had lost the MP election to MoS Kiren Rijiju.
Itanagar is also the only capital in India not to have an airport.