Kangra airport expansion faces setback as feasibility report rejected
The report, which estimated the project cost at over ₹10,000 crores, was found to have numerous flaws, prompting the department to request a re-evaluation
The tourism and civil aviation department has dismissed the techno-economic feasibility report submitted by WAPCOS for the expansion of Kangra’s Gaggal Airport.
The report, which estimated the project cost at over ₹10,000 crores, was found to have numerous flaws, prompting the department to request a re-evaluation. IIT Roorke will re-evaluate the project.
During a meeting, technical experts from the tourism department identified discrepancies in the report, ranging from inaccuracies in drawings, cross sections, and plans.
The estimated cost of the project also raised eyebrows, conflicting with the state government’s assessment of reasonable expenditure for the expansion. As the Gaggal Airport expansion falls under the brownfield category, the state government is required to engage with the Airport Authority of India (AAI), which is expected to invest in the project based on a feasible detailed project report (DPR).
The project had reached the stage of land acquisition, with the state government tasking the Kangra deputy commissioner to finalise the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) plan.
A committee had been formed to oversee land acquisition, which, along with the dialogue with the Government of India, is poised to be a complex endeavour.
The project aims at expanding the runaway across the Majhi Khad, necessitating additional funds and escalating the overall project cost.
The initial estimate for land acquisition costs was up to ₹2,000 crores but may now rise to ₹3,000 crores. The final determination of land acquisition costs, whether based on circle rates or an alternative formula, will significantly influence the project’s scope, impacting over 1,200 affected families earmarked for resettlement.
The expansion project envisages increasing runway length of Kangra airport from existing 1,372 metres to 3,010 metres. Presently, due to the shorter runway, only 72-seater aircraft can land on the airstrip. Also, airlines here operate flights on lead penalty, which means they run at least 10-15% less than their full capacity of passengers, fuel and cargo, eventually resulting in higher air fares. Once the airstrip is extended to 3,010-metre, bigger aircrafts like Airbus A320 could land here which would not only boost valley’s connectivity to other parts of the country, but also bring down travel cost on this route.
Extension of airport has been planned in two phases. In the first phase, the runway length would be increased to 1,900 metres and to 3,010 metres in the second phase. A total of 147 hectares of land will be acquired in Kangra and Shahpur subdivisions for the airport extension, of which 122 hectares of land is private and 25 hectares is government land.
The government envisions elevating Kangra Airport to international standards aiming to promote tourism in the region. The chief minister’s recent declaration of Kangra as the tourism capital reinforces the significance of the Gaggal Airport expansion in attracting a higher influx of tourists to the Kangra Valley. The detailed project report will be drawn after the submission of the report.
The ongoing survey for the expansion of Kangra airport encountered resistance from the locals.