Controversy has arisen over the Assam government’s efforts to acquire land for setting up a greenfield airport in Cachar district with the Centre claiming that no such proposal has been received for the facility from the BJP-led dispensation in the north-eastern state.
The district administration issued a clarification on Friday following a reply by Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia to a letter written by TMC Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev.
The Union minister stated that till date the ministry has received ‘’no proposal to construct a greenfield airport in Cachar district of Assam. However, if any such proposal from any airport developer or the state government is received, the same would be considered as per the Greenfield Airports Policy, 2008.”
Greenfield airport means a new airport that is built from scratch on a new location because the existing facility is unable to meet the projected traffic requirements.
Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) Pankaj Kumar Deka said in a statement that the entire process of land acquisition for the construction of the airport at Doloo was done following due procedure.
“There are many questions being raised on the proposed airport at Doloo. It is again informed to all concerned that this particular land was taken up as per the instructions received from the state government following due procedure. The land in question was supposed to be handed over free of encumbrance.
“It is in the final stage of execution and stakeholders are requested to kindly cooperate’’, the statement said. He clarified that the Government of Assam (GoA) is acquiring land from its fund for the development of an airport.
The completion of the formalities would lead to further steps which will be taken by both the state and central governments.
The Assam government and the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) are in constant touch for the last three years over the issue and a team of the Airport Authority of India had first visited the proposed spot in January 2020 for site inspection, Deka said.
Quoting Clause 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3 of the Greenfield Airport Act, 2008, the official stated, “in the North-Eastern areas, where it may not be feasible to follow the PPP route, AAI could set up Greenfield Airports by itself, as may be approved by the Government on a case to case basis…. in north-eastern states the government can allot land to private companies/AAI for the setting up of an airport and vice-versa.”
Moreover, according to Clause 5.4, the government can give land to the authority without charging any money to facilitate the development of a Greenfield Airport, he said,
The official stated that everything was going on smoothly as per rules and requested the public not to panic and urged all stakeholders to co-operate. The Silchar airport at Kumbhirgram is a defence airport and hence there are limitations in its expansion. Pressure has increased on Silchar Airport with the neighbouring states of Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram, and Meghalaya depending on it.
‘’This is one of the prime reasons why the Barak Valley needs a good airport. Apart from this, the new airport will also bring in job opportunities for many and usher in overall development’’, the official added.
Land acquisition of Doloo Tea Estate for the construction of the greenfield airport had led to protests by the tea garden workers but the government had assured them that they will not lose their jobs and none will be evicted from their homes due to the construction of the facility.
Dev alleged that Silchar Lok Sabha MP Rajdeep Roy had “misled” the members at an all-party meeting on the issue of the greenfield airport and it is “bizarre that over 30 lakh tea bushes have been cut to clear land”.
The Rajya Sabha MP demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter “as this appears to be a case of large-scale corruption”.
Roy had said that this was not an eviction drive but only a land acquisition process which is going on for an important infrastructural project in Barak Valley that has been neglected for a long time.
Only 2,500 bighas of land are being used for the airport while the rest of the land will be used for planting more trees and the management of the Doloo Tea Estate has given its consent to the district administration regarding this, he said.
State needs to acquire land first, then send proposal to Centre for airport: Himanta
Tezpur, Jun 11 (PTI): Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday claimed that land acquisition has to be completed by the state government before sending a formal proposal to the Centre for developing a greenfield airport. He said that Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M Scindia’s letter stating that no proposal has been received for a greenfield airport in Cachar district has been “wrongly understood by some people”.
The chief minister told reporters here, “The state government has to complete the land acquisition before formally submitting the proposal for the greenfield airport”. Sarma said he had held discussions with the Union minister about setting up a greenfield airport at Silchar in the Cachar district.
The details of the discussion are in the minutes of the meeting, he claimed.
A controversy has arisen over the efforts by the Assam government to acquire land for setting up the airport with the Centre claiming that no such proposal has been received for the facility from the BJP-led dispensation in the north-eastern state.
On Scindia’s reply to a letter by Trinamool Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev wherein he stated that till date the ministry has received ‘’no proposal to construct a greenfield airport in Cachar District of Assam’, Sarma claimed that it has not been properly understood.
“How can the government submit a proposal for an airport on the land until it has acquired it?” he asked.
The Union minister had said in his response that “However, if any such proposal from any Airport Developer or the state government is received, the same would be considered as per the Greenfield Airports Policy, 2008.” Greenfield airport means a new airport that is built from the scratch on a new location because the existing facility is unable to meet the projected traffic requirements.
Sarma said the land acquisition process was on and it would be wrong to say that dwellers in this land were being “evicted’.
“There is no eviction, that is a wrong way of putting it. It is just like people clearing land for any developmental project,” he said.
The acquisition of land at Doloo Tea Estate for the construction of the greenfield airport had led to protests by tea garden workers but the government had assured them that no worker would be evicted from his home and there would be no job cuts.
The state Cabinet had earlier decided to pay a total sum of Rs 12.63 crore to 1,263 families of the workers of the Doloo Tea Estate as a goodwill gesture for their cooperation in the development of the airport.
The state government had previously also announced a compensation of Rs 50 crore for the acquisition of land at Doloo, Lalbagh, and Mainagarh tea gardens for setting up the greenfield airport and had already released Rs 2.37 crore as the first installment.
The Cachar district administration had on Friday issued a press statement maintaining that the state government was acquiring the land for the construction of the airport and the process was going on smoothly.
It had stated that the state government and the Ministry of Civil Aviation were in constant touch for the last three years over the issue.