Pune Airport @ Purandar takes a step forward

Maharashtra Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has approved land at Purandar for a new greenfield international airport for Pune. The proposed airport will be spread over 2,400 hectares and the site has already been approved by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Fadnavis told reporters in Mumbai after attending a meeting of the Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation (MADC). The airport would commence in three years, he said.
Fadnavis announced that the new airport would be named after Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje as Purandar was his birthplace. “We decided to grant permissions for carrying out a detailed project report (DPR) as well as an obstacle limitation surface survey for the proposed site,“ the chief minister said. “The site is around 15-20 km away from Pune city . Located on the south of the city, the proposed airport will be connected with six different routes including national highways 4 and 17. There will be a special ring-road connecting major industrial establishments with the proposed airport from Hadapsar. The proposed airport will have two airstrips, each having a length of 4 km. It will handle cargo along with passenger traffic,“ Fadnavis said.
Asked about earlier proposed sites like Chakan and Rajgurunagar, Fadnavis said except Purandar, no other site has been approved by the AAI.“Most of the farmers have expressed their willingness for the project (at Purandar). The farmers whose land will be acquired for the project will become partners in the airport developing company which will ensure some steady income source for them. This model has been used in the state earlier for land acquisition of the (proposed) Navi Mumbai International Airport,“ Fadnavis said.
Asked about the proposed airport in Kolhapur, Fadnavis said “The state government is spending Rs.40 crore for this airport and it will be a domestic one.“ A new airport for Pune was proposed more than a decade ago but the project has been delayed for want of suitable land. Two weeks back, a 15-member team comprising revenue officials and representatives from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and MADC had conducted a review of the Purandar site in villages Pargaon Memane, Ikhatpur, Rajewadi and Waghapur. The team had found the site most appropriate for the airport.
The AAI has since given its in-principle approval to the site and the state now has to initiate the process for land acquisition.

The existing Lohegaon airport has since long exceeded its capacity to handle the volume of passenger traffic, which has grown significantly over the last 10 years. This is despite an airport expansion project that was implemented in 2008 before the Commonwealth Youth Games hosted by Pune, to create additional departure and arrival terminals on either side of the original main building. The airport's passenger handling capacity has grown from nearly 20 lakh in 2009-10 to 55 lakh in 2015-16 and inadequacy of space for various activities remains a major hurdle, often leading to chaotic situations during peak-time operation of passenger flights.
Passenger traffic is projected to rise between 80 lakh to 100 lakh per annum over the next few years. Moreover, the airport is part of the Indian Air Force's (IAF) strategically vital base for two squadrons of its frontline multi-role combat aircraft Sukhoi 30 Mk-I. The runway and the air traffic control (ATC) is controlled by the Air Force Station and the civil enclave is managed by AAI.
A crucial morning slot between 8 am and 10.30 am remains out of bounds for all civilian flights to enable the Air Force Station to carry out daily flying exercises. Similarly , there are undeclared restrictions during the evening hours.
With Pune being a major industrial, IT and education hub, scope for growth of air traffic is more than what the existing airport is able to handle. Not just passenger traffic, air cargo operations too have a huge potential considering that almost 40% of cargo going through the Nhava Sheva port near Navi Mumbai is generated from Pune and adjoining districts.
The existing runway of 8,300 ft is inadequate to handle wide-bodied aircraft that can carry more passengers than the existing aircraft of 180-200 passenger capacity .

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