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Rajasthan's no-frills airport stuck in political mess

The mega Rs 3,000-crore aerotropolis project near Shahpura in Rajasthan is stuck with the state government.

, ET Bureau|
May 11, 2010, 09.24 AM IST
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JAIPUR: The mega Rs 3,000-crore aerotropolis project near Shahpura in Rajasthan is stuck with the state government. Despite having all the regulatory clearances from departments like the ministry of defence, ministry of environment and forest, ministry of home affairs, director general of civil aviation, airports authority of India and steering committee, this project is biting dust in the bureaucratic corridors of the state industry department. This may give a big jolt to the efforts of the state government in “attracting investment”.

The promoter company, Rajasthan Aviation Infrastructure India (RAIPL), had signed MoU with the previous BJP government for setting up an international standard airport and other aviation related industries over 4,500 acres in Rajasthan under the Greenfield Airport Policy (2008). The policy permits private organisations to build airports if permitted by the Centre.

The project will be India’s second private-run airport, after the one in Kochi. It’s been over a year that the agreement was signed. Now that all the clearances are in place, the state government is not giving its nod for the project. The company claims that the delay is in signing up of the state support agreement with state government.

“The progress is slow. Unless state support agreement is signed, practically , we cannot take up the project further . The state government support is needed for acquiring land and other infrastructural facilities like water, road and power,” said RAIPL managing director Nikhil Gupta.

According to sources, the project is likely to be mired in a political wrangle. It’s surprising that the state government had delayed the project despite notifying it officially as one of its early-bird projects on Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor. “The agreement was signed in BJP tenure. Now the incumbent Congress government is creating hurdles for the project. The government wants to reshape the project as per its will,” said an industry department official.

In a bid to seek the state government’s support, the company has offered the state government sweat equity of 5%. “We want the participation of the state government and people. We can up the equity to 13% if the state government wants,” Mr Gupta said.

The company claims to have financial back up of organisations like Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Japan, ING Bank, Netherlands, ABN Amro Bank and BMR Advisors besides strategic partnership with Fraport (Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide, Germany) for managing the airport operations. Fraport is a fullservice provider in the airport management field and owns the Frankfurt airport in Germany and also has operations in Delhi International airport.

“The state government is not convinced with the ability of the company. The net worth of the company is just Rs 5 lakh which poses a serious question mark on the financial health of the company to execute this Rs 3,000-crore project. We are reviewing the company’s claims and credentials,” a government official had said.

The company envisages setting up an international standard airport of 4-E category with multiple runways. Apart from that, the project would also have trade parks, convention centres, logistic and warehousing hub, multimodal linkages and social infrastructure to support the project in this remote area.

FLYING ALLEGATIONS

The mega Rs 3,000-crore aerotropolis project near Shahpura in Rajasthan is stuck with the state government despite having all the regulatory clearances from the Union ministries The promoter company had signed MoU with the previous BJP government for setting up an international standard airport. Now, the incumbent Congress government is creating hurdles for the project, according to the company. In a bid to seek the state government’s support, the company has offered the state government sweat equity of 5% and is even willing to increase this to 13% if the state government wants.
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