Upgradation of the Tirupati domestic airport into an international airport is unlikely in the immediate future. It was way back in September, 2010 that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone for the expansion and upgradation of the airport.
Emphasising the need for the same, the Prime Minister had said, “Once this new integrated terminal is operational, the Tirupati airport will have the capacity to handle 500 domestic and 200 international flights during peak hours. The new terminal building will be equipped with state-of-the-art amenities. After international operations commence, pilgrims from neighbouring countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka will find it easier to come in large numbers, contributing to Tirupati’s development into a major religious-cum-tourist hub.”
All this remains on paper as the airport works have not moved an inch. The works were entrusted to a contractor, who came up with the lowest bid, and after some initial momentum, everything came to an abrupt end. Reason: The contractor claimed the soil was not viable for airport works.
However, sources said the contractor, whose name neither the Airports Authority of India (AAI) nor the district authorities revealed, quoted a very lesser amount and intentionally, stopped the works to avoid losses.
The AAI blacklisted the contractor and is set to invite fresh bids for the works. However, the delay in execution of works has resulted in escalation of the project cost. The state government on its part handed over the required land of about 700 acres for the expansion works.
“We had taken up land acquisition process in Renigunta and Yerpedu mandals and handed over 712 acres of lands to the AAI,” Tirupati RDO Y Ramachandra Reddy told Express.
The night landing facility also remains unused.