HUBBALLI: The demand for developing an international airport between Hubballi and Belagavi at Kittur has resurfaced once again. Despite both the cities already operating domestic airports, industries are insisting on an international airport nearby to avoid reaching Goa or Mumbai to catch the international flight or load the cargo.
During the TiE-Hubli Infra Meet, Aequs Private Limited chairman and CEO Arvind Melligeri counted three main infra projects -- an international airport between Hubballi and Belagavi, opening up the HAL airport for domestic air services, and high-speed rain between Belagavi and Bengaluru.
Responding immediately to Melligeri's request, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi said the demand is not a new one. "I don't want to go in past and which government was then at Centre. However, pressed for upgrading the existing airport without suspending the air service," Joshi said. Former MP Vijay Sankeshwar, who was in the audience, said he had suggested the same way back in 2008.
If the State government acquires land, the Union government is open for consideration. The new facility can also be used for maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) of planes as well as parking space for international flights landing at Bengaluru and Mumbai, as they have space constraints, he added.
However, the question lingering among conservatives is about the feasibility to develop a brand new greenfield airport by making heavy investments while two airports are operating within 100 kilometres. Instead, the government should consider upgrading any one of the two into an international airport.
However, it would not be easy to get land in Kirrur as resistance is already in place against the land acquisition for the Dharwad-Belagavi railway line. Expressing the same sentiments, Large and Medium Scale Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani said that at least 2,500 acres are needed for the new greenfield airport. While some land was in the possession of the government, getting the remaining would be a difficult task.
Moreover, he added, the land is a costly proposition, unless both the Central and State governments come to understanding to share the cost However, the State government was ready for discussion and taking feedback from various sections, he added.