India

Shivamogga airport work finally takes off

Shivamogga (Karnataka), June 15 (IANS) The much-awaited project work of the Shivamogga greenfield airport in the picturesque Malanad region of Karnataka took off, with state Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa laying its foundation digitally from Bengaluru, an official said on Monday.

“As the chief minister could not come here due to extended lockdown, he laid the foundation stone for the airport project at Sogane, 10 km from Shivamogga city, digitally from Bengaluru,” district public works department chief engineer Santosh Kumar told IANS.

Shivamogga, about 300 km northwest of Bengaluru, is the home district of Yediyurappa, and his son B.Y. Raghavendr, a third-time Lok Sabha member from its constituency.

“The state department of infrastructure and public works is executing the project at an upfront cost of Rs 221 crore in 668 acres of land, some of which was acquired by the government from farmers at market price,” said Kumar.

The ambitious project is expected to be completed in 18 months for commissioning the airport by the state-run Airport Authority of India (AAI).

“We hope to launch flight operations from the airport from 2021-end or early 2022. Initially, turbo-prop ATR-72 aircraft will operate for regional connectivity with feeder service,” said Kumar.

The airport runway will be extended to 2.1 km from 1.2 km for enabling full-fledged operations and landing of passenger and cargo jets.

The Malnad region is well connected with rail and road network across the southern state.

“State-run and low-cost carriers can operate feeder services under the Udan (Ude Desk ka Aam Naagrik) regional connectivity scheme between Shivamogga and Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Belagavi, Kalaburagi and Bidar across the state,” Kumar added.

As Malnad region is a hot tourist spot and pilgrim destination, air connectivity will boost tourism and pilgrimage. People from other states can also fly into the region from the nearest airport in the state or neighbouring states.

Though Yediyurappa wanted initiate the process for the ambitious airport a decade ago during his first stint as chief minister of the first BJP government in south India, he could not do much, as he resigned in July 2011 after a Lokayukta report indicted him in the multi-crore mining scam in the state.

“After returning to power in July 2019 and commissioning Kalaburagi airport in November and Bidar airport in February in the state's northern region, the chief minister directed the infrastructure department to initiate the Shivamogga airport project. Covid-induced lockdown delayed the project launch,” Kumar recalled.

–IANS

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