Nellore: Dagadarthi airport hangs fire
- YSRCP govt cancels the agreement signed by the previous TDP govt with SCL Turbo Consortium soon after coming to power but has done nothing to expedite the project
- A no-frills airport was proposed under Public-Private-Partnership basis in 1,352 acre
- Rs 20 cr has already been spent on the project for land acquisition
Nellore: The greenfield airport proposed at Dagadarthi in the district has failed to take off so far owing to the lax attitude of the state government. Despite announcement by the state government the airport will be completed early, there is no sign of Airports Authority of India (AAI) taking up the job.
A ray of hope for the people of district is, the state government is still showing the proposed domestic airport at Dagadarthi on its website, but there is no mention of the involvement of AAI. The website of the Andhra Pradesh Airports Development Corporation Limited (APADCL), formerly known as Bhogapuram International Airport Corporation Ltd (BIACL), displays the basic details of the airport project.
"The website is showing a huge progress in works being taken up at the Orvakal airport in Kurnool district. In case of Dagadarthi, there is only a simple indication of the greenfield airport on the website of the APADCL. The YSRCP government cancelled the Nellore project as soon as coming to power last year. Unfortunately, no local leader is questioning the government about its progress," said a retired revenue official from Balaji Nagar here who was earlier involved in the land acquisition activity.
Industries and IT minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy announced in the city in August last year that the government had cancelled the MoU SCL-Turbo Consortium Pvt. Ltd due to 'some technical problems'. The TDP government had entered into the MoU with the SCL Turbo Consortium Ltd for developing the greenfield airport and a cargo hub at Dagadarthi and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu also laid the foundation for the project on February 10, 2019, just before the elections. It was proposed that the no-frills airport would be constructed under Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) basis in 1,352 acre land at a cost of around Rs 368 crore.
The government has already spent around Rs 20 crore on the project for land acquisition. In May last year, senior officials Ajay Jain announced they were winding up the project due to its nonviability where farmers were demanding huge compensation from the government. Later, head of the SCL Turbo Consortium Vankayalapati Umesh came forward to construct the airport and had a concession MoU with the state government.
They also proposed a Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) for the airport with the association of other airlines.
Further, minister Goutham Reddy announced that the AAI would take up the project under UDAN scheme of the Centre. However, there has been no progress in the works dampening hopes of the people in the district.
"Airport is not for a political party or a section of people, and it is for all. Why these leaders are having narrow-minded attitude in clearing the pending projects though they are useful for development of the district? Other airports like Orvakal are also facing problems with the reverse-tendering process," lamented M Prabhakar Rao, a retired government employee from Kovur.