Itanagar is the only capital in India not having an airport. But that status may change sooner with the Pema Khandu cabinet approving recommendations for construction of a greenfield airport at Hollongi, 25 kms from the capital city.
On 10th May, the Arunachal Pradesh cabinet approved the recommendation of the report of the Committee under the chairmanship of Nabam Rebia, minister for Land Management, for onward submission to the Centre.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is said to have completed the master plan and detailed project report was prepared in 2014.
But opposition erupted as the site was shifted from Karsinga to Hollongi. In 2007, Karsingsa was first recommended as airport site and then Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had laid the foundation stone.
Further, a PIL was filed in 2015 alleging that the proposed airport site at Hollongi was under reserve forest and that the Chakmas were being provided compensation for land which actually belonged to the state. In June 2017, the Itanagar bench of Gauhati High Court dismissed the PIL.
It is said that the airport area falls under “Chakma Settlement Area” in Hollongi in Papum Pare district and many Chakma families will have to be evicted. These families have been demanding ‘land for land’ resettlement, and fair compensation for loss of properties, gardens and agriculture and horticulture produce.
The state Cabinet on 18 July 2017 approved the Central Technical Committee’s recommendation for Hollongi as the feasible site for the greenfield airport. Yet, the construction work has not started.
In a stinging editorial in today’s edition, The Arunachal Times said,
“The dirty politics behind green field airport is believed to be the main cause for delay. With several politicians who owns land at the proposed airport site in Hollongi expected to benefit from land compensation, the rivals are hell bent on stopping the project. Due to impending assembly and parliament elections, the airport project is not expected to be priority of the state government. The Thursday’s decision of cabinet to recommend Hollongi as permanent site for green field airport looks more like an eye wash.”
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