VIJAYAWADA: The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation is likely to send a team of experts this month to study the need for diversion of Eluru canal to the northern side to facilitate extension of runway of Vijayawada (Gannavaram) airport.
According to former MP Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao, there was no need to extend the runway of the airport over Eluru canal. Union Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapati Raju had promised to look into it when Sobhanadreeswara Rao made a representation to him a few days ago.
The former MP, speaking to media persons here on Thursday, said that the extension of the runway, whose length at present is 2,286 metres, could be taken up to 3,925 metres.
For its extension upto 3025 metres, there is no difficulty and to extend it upto 3,925 metres by increasing the length by another 900 metres upto Eluru canal also posed no problem since farmers were ready to give their land.
He said the problem arises when the runway has to be extended beyond 3,925 metres since Eluru canal comes in the way. Since the canal is indispensable, the airports authorities are looking for diverting the canal by taking it to the northern side and make it pass through eight villages.
The officials felt that they would have to take the canal forward by diverting it via north side of the run way since it involves only contour trenching. If they have to do it via south side, they would have to elevate the canal.
He said at a time when Mumbai airport runway is not more than 3,640 metres, where was the need for extending the Vijayawada airport’s runway beyond 3,925 metres as the passenger traffic at the airport is very low. “Passenger traffic at Vijayawada airport was four lakh last year and it is estimated to go up to six lakh by the end of this financial year. There are estimates that the traffic would reach 60 lakh mark in the next 15 years but they are all ballpark figures,” Sobhanadreeswara Rao said.
The former parliamentarian argued that the north side alignment of the canal would cost the government dearer since for the diversion of it would require 423 acres and the acquisition cost may go upto Rs1,000 crore. This is precisely the reason why the government wants to go in for land pooling but farmers are reluctant to part with their land, he pointed out.