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Air connectivity of Tier-II cities on the cards

In a renewed bid to provide air connectivity of Tier-II cities, the state government is planning to call for an expression of interest afresh for the development of smaller airports in Karnataka.

Published: 21st October 2013 10:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st October 2013 10:15 AM   |  A+A-

In a renewed bid to provide air connectivity of Tier-II cities, the state government is planning to call for an expression of interest afresh for the development of smaller airports in Karnataka.

This followed Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s statement in Gulbarga recently that the government wants to develop airports in Tier-II cities.

Recently, Infrastructure and Information Minister Lad had told reporters that the government may shelve airport development projects in Gulbarga, Bellary, Bijapur, Hassan and Shimoga cities due to the economic slowdown.

Close on the heels of the CM’s statement, senior officials of the Department of Infrastructure held a meeting, chaired by Lad, and decided to make renewed efforts to develop the airports. As the first step, the department is planning to invite expression of interests from both Indian and foreign companies for taking up airport development in Tier-II cities.

The meeting also took note of Gulbarga and Shimoga projects which have been caught in legal wrangles, following the alleged differences of opinion among two main joint venture partners.

Since the matter was pending before the court, the department had referred it to the Legal Department to take appropriate steps. “The matter is expected to be resolved in the next three to four months. Thereafter, we are planning to hold one-on-one meetings with investors. We are in the process of working out sops for investors in due consultation with the CM,” a senior official of the Department of Infrastructure said on condition of anonymity.

The officer stated that no investor would come forward to invest crores of rupees in projects unless it benefits them.

“Since the project was initiated by the previous government, the department is not interested in shelving it. Besides, air connectivity acts as a major boost for the development of  Tier-II cities,” he said.

Lad told Express that the aviation industry is under a lot of stress due to the economic slump.

“Besides, the winding up of the Kingfisher Airlines has further hurt the industry. Because of this reason, investors are in a dilemma to invest in new or existing projects. Despite economic downtrend, I am talking to some entrepreneurs to invest in airport projects. They have been invited to Bangalore for one-to-one discussions,” Lad said.

He said the department was in the process of working out sops in order to attract investors. One of the suggestions has been to call for expression of interests from major players of the aviation industry. “A clear picture may emerge in next two to three months,” he added.

The minister said passenger movement was also important to make airline profitable as no private operator likes to incur loss.

“It was easy to work out routes connecting all major cities but people have to travel frequently. Completing ongoing projects in time is my priority,” he added.



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