VISAKHAPATNAM: It’s official now. The state government, which has been making promises for setting up a green field airport near Visakhapatnam, zeroed in on Bhogapuram in Vizianagaram district as the location. Finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu made an announcement in this regard apart from allocating funds for the project in the budget 2015-16.
Bhogapuram is a strategic location in close proximity to the district headquarters of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam as well. The authorities said that Bhogapuram has been selected as it is technically more suitable than other places and the usual wind direction from East to West favours flight operations. Though the Indian Navy is not objecting to the expansion of the existing airport, it is said to be reluctant to shift its airstrip at INS Dega, which is located in the existing airport, for it considers INS Dega as a strategic location for the Indian Navy.
The proposal for setting up a green field airport at Bhogapuram, about 60 km from Visakhapatnam, was mooted during the Congress regime, two years ago, but this would be the first time that the government allotted funds for the project and made an official commitment towards completing it. Though places like Atchuthapuram, S Rayavaram and Bheemili in Visakhapatnam were under consideration, the state government is said to have opted for Bhogapuram.
The Indian Navy objected to a new airport near Atchutapuram and S Rayavaram area, as it is uncomfortably close to its upcoming Naval Alternative Operations Base (NAOB) at Rambilli and can pose a security threat. Though the Navy also wants to establish an additional ammunition storage point, the state government is said to be keen on setting up the new green field airport at Bhogapuram where the government has over 2,000 acres of land.
“Another 2,000-3,000 acres are required for the establishment of a full-fledged international airport and the government wants to acquire necessary land from farmers,” said an official.