HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu wants to have an airport in each district so as to make the State an aviation hub but his party colleague and Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju sounds more practical on the issue.
Taking a general view of the growing demands across the country for more airports, Raju said Saturday that constructing new airports would serve no purpose if there weren’t enough number of air passengers. However, he made it clear the Centre had no objection to developing airports at places accessible to air passengers if the State concerned acquired the land for the purpose.
Raju also lauded the efforts of his party chief and Chief Minister Naidu to expand the aviation sector in the State.
“When there is a proactive CM like Naidu, it is easy to expand the aviation sector in the State. Expansion of aviation could be a source of employment for many. For instance, take Ladakh, where the airport functions only for a few months in a year because of inclement weather. Despite this, Ladakh is able to prosper economically because of the airport,” he said.
The Civil Aviation Minister met Naidu at the Lake View Guest House here Saturday. According to sources, during the meeting, both discussed the State government’s ambitious proposals of setting up 14 airports across the State, apart from upgrading existing airports at Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Tirupati into international airports.
The Chief Minister told Raju that the State should have 11 more airports. After requesting Raju to prevail upon the Centre to lend a helping hand to the State, Naidu discussed issues of land acquisition and infrastructure facilities required for the new airports. Investments to set up new airports and possible revenue from these airports to the State government were also thoroughly discussed during the meeting.
Intl Airports for Andhra Pradesh
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju made it clear that the Centre was committed to upgrade existing airports at Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Tirupati into international airports. “This promise is there in the AP Reorganisation Act-2014. The NDA government has already made it clear that it would honour the Act. Hence, we are firm on upgrading these three airports,” he said, adding that “the Centre will not oppose if locals want to rename airports in their respective States.”
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Welcoming the proposed meeting between the Chief Ministers of Telangana and AP to resolve contentious issues, Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju said, “I am happy over the way both CMs have decided to hold talks with each other over contentious issues”. Stating that even Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had told him recently that it would be better if the two CMs sit across the table to resolve vexatious issues, Raju said, “I will be more happy if the proposed meeting between Naidu and KCR brings something good for the Telugu-speaking people.” Asked if he was avoiding a meeting with KCR, Raju replied, “If KCR extends an invitation to me, I am ready to call on him”.