Taj city upset over losing airport

Last Updated: Wed, May 09, 2012 10:20 hrs

Agra, May 9 (IANS) Agra is furious. If its business leaders are to be believed, an airport that citizens of the Taj city were lobbying for may now come up between Mathura and Aligarh districts.

The Uttar Pradesh government has reportedly initiated exercises to locate the proposed airport at a place called Baldev, according to official sources here.

"This is simply ridiculous and illogical. Agra will be 40 km from the airport," complained Rajiv Tiwari, president of the Federation of Travel Agents Association here, echoing the city's sentiments.

Mathura legislator Pradeep Mathur Tuesday met Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Javed Usmani to submit proposals for the new airport at Baldev.

Baldev is said to be close to the Yamuna Expressway, and at the centre of Mathura, Aligarh and Agra districts.

Mathur indicated to journalists that Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh appeared to favour the Baldev proposal.

The Agra tourism industry fears the new proposed airport would harm the Taj city.

The Agra Citizens Council Wednesday submitted a detailed presentation to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav demanding immediate action on introducing flights from Agra's Kheria airport which is already functional.

Agra, about 200 south of New Delhi, has an Indian Air Force base which is also used for civilian flights.

Local officials say that in 2010-11, there were 256 domestic scheduled and 655 non-domestic and 31 international non-scheduled flights to Agra's Kheria airport.

There has been a long-standing demand to upgrade it as an international airport with a separate terminal.

Last year, the union civil aviation ministry assured a delegation from Agra that this would be done and regular flights started after night landing facilities are installed and the runway repaired.

This, officials here say, was done in March this year.

But now, instead of giving permission to airlines to start flights to Agra, the project for setting up a new airfield in Baldev has started.

Asked an Agra resident: "When you have infrastructure facilities and government planes and chartered flights are landing in Agra, where is the need for a new airport in this region?"

The Uttar Pradesh government has also decided to scrap the Jewar international airport in Bulandshahr district, a project of the former Mayawati government.

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