Ludhiana, March 17
Even as the state government plans to begin the flight operations from mid of this year, the Centre has denied fixing any timeline so far for the commencement of flights and other allied facilities from the upcoming international airport at Halwara in Ludhiana.
- Total area: 161.28 acres
- Terminal area: 2,000 sq meters
- Awarded cost: Rs 3,876.65 lakh
- Wall, approach road cost: Rs 309.33-cr
- Missed deadlines: Jan & June 2022
- Fresh deadline: June 30
Turn of events
- November 9, 2022: Punjab Government decides to take up project and release Rs 50 crore for balance work.
- November 17, 2022: Work resumes on project.
- May 2022: State government approached AAI to bear cost of balance work after GLADA failed to release funds.
- March 2022: Both contractors stopped work for want of payments.
- December 9, 2021: Work awarded to construct interim airport terminal at Rs 2,272.5 lakh.
- Nov 8, 2021: Work of internal roads and allied infrastructure awarded at Rs 1,604.15 lakh.
- Oct 22, 2021: AAI accorded formal nod to construct new interim terminal building at Rs 4,691.12 lakh.
- Oct 26, 2021: Punjab Civil Aviation Secretary issued administrative approval for release of Rs 4,290.42 lakh through GLADA.
New airport by mid of the year
The work to build a new international airport is progressing at a fast pace. Our government is poised to make it operational by mid of this year as enough funds have been provided to complete the ongoing work. — Bhagwant Mann, CM
However, the Union Government has confirmed that the under-construction interim terminal building and balance allied works being undertaken by the state government were targeted to be completed by June.
It was stated by Union Minister of State (MoS) for Civil Aviation Gen VK Singh (retd) in response to a question by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and MP Sukhbir Singh Badal in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. Sukhbir had asked the status of construction, challenges, reasons for delay, and the time by which the Halwara international airport would be ready for the flight operations.
Replying to the unstarred question, the Civil Aviation MoS said the timeline for completion of the airport projects and commencement of flight operations depends upon many factors such as availability of mandatory clearances, financial closure, commercial viability, traffic demands and willingness of airlines to operate to and from such airports.
“The work of construction of the interim terminal building and allied works at the Halwara airport is being carried out by the state government through the Public Works Department (PWD) and the projected date of completion is June,” the Union MoS said.
Meanwhile, the PWD has again issued a fresh tender to invite bids for the balance work involving construction of internal roads, estate public health services and campus lighting of the interim airport terminal building at an estimated cost of Rs 15.87 crore following no success in re-tendering done twice since February.
Confirming the development, a senior government functionary told The Tribune, here on Friday, that once the work is allotted, it will not take much time to complete as it will be taken up on a war-footing for early completion.
However, the ongoing work to construct an interim terminal building has further picked up pace almost four months after it resumed and has touched almost one-third mark till date. The work had resumed on November 17 last after the state government had made available Rs 50-crore corpus for the project.
“The remaining work to build the new international airport has been taken up on a war-footing and all stops have been pulled to complete the ambitious project at the earliest,” the officer said.
He said the flight operations from the new terminal building had been targeted to begin any time before June 30 before which the new international airport would be made operational by completing the construction work and finalising the statutory compliances for the operational purposes.
“The Civil Aviation Department has begun the process to launch the flight operations by the time a new airport comes up,” the functionary said while asserting that both terminal building and internal roads would be built before June 30.
Of the total allocation of Rs 50 crore by the state government, a sum of Rs 12.5 crore had already been transferred while the total requirement estimated so far was of Rs 45 crore.
Reviewing the project, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had recently visited the site and had directed the officers concerned to complete the ongoing work within three months. “We have put the work on a fast-track mode and no delay will be tolerated at any cost,” the CM asserted, while adding that there is no dearth of funds.
Pertinently, the construction of interim terminal building and allied works at the cost of Rs 47 crore had been stalled in March last after the contractors, who had been awarded the work, had refused to carry on the ambitious project following non-payment of their dues.
It was in November last that the state government had formally taken over the pending work to build the international airport coming up at Air Force Station in Halwara, which is one of the oldest frontline airbases of the Indian Air Force (IAF), close to Ludhiana.
For this purpose, the Finance Department (FD) has released a sum of Rs 30 crore while the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUDD) through the Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA) has undertaken to bear the expenditure of Rs 20 crore.
MP for early completion
Rajya Sabha MP from Ludhiana Sanjeev Arora, who had hailed the government’s decision to take over the project, has been pressing hard for the early completion of the project. He has directed the authorities concerned to immediately expedite the balance work for its early completion. “The project is close to my heart and our government will leave no stone unturned to make the airport operational within next few months,” Arora asserted while reviewing the ongoing work.
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