Centre, Jharkhand govt close to a deal on Dhalbhumgarh airport project


The Centre and Jharkhand government will soon agree in principle on the revival of 300 crore Dhalbhumgarh airport project in Jamshedpur, people familiar with the developments said on Monday.

The Centre and Jharkhand government will soon agree in principle on the revival of 300 crore Dhalbhumgarh airport project. (HT File)

Jamshedpur MP Bidyut Baran Mahato said the breakthrough came after the Jharkhand government gave its nod for 65 hectares of forest land for the airport project out of the 99 hectares demanded by the AAI.

“For the remaining 35 hectares, three out of five villages around the proposed airport have agreed to give their land, while gram sabhas will be held in the remaining two villages shortly,” said Mahato.

The MP said he met the Union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia in New Delhi last Friday in the backdrop of these developments and requested him not to dissolve the Dhalbhumgarh Airport Company Limited (DACL).

“I met both Scindia-ji and AAI chairman Sanjeev Kumar last Friday and apprised them that PM Narendra Modi was keen to see this project through and had sanctioned it in 2019. AAI sanctioned 100 crore immediately, and the foundation stone was laid by the then civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu and former CM Raghubar Das. And now the incumbent state chief minister Hemant Soren has also agreed to withdraw its letter for the dissolution of the DACL,” revealed Mahato.

He said the Environment Assessment Committee (EAC) had, on September 24, 2020, made adverse comments on the airport project, citing the vicinity of the elephant corridor to the project and suggesting selecting an alternative site in construction with the state’s chief wildlife warden (CWW).

The Jharkhand government had then sent a letter to the AAI requesting it to dissolve the DACL.

“A meeting chaired by the state chief secretary Sukhdev Singh was held on the EAC report on May 8 this year. This meeting resolved that the project site at Dhalbhumgarh is the most suitable site for the project, and necessary steps be taken for its development in getting environmental and forest clearance for the same in coordination with the CWW and Jamshedpur DFO. CM Soren also approved this and decided to withdraw the request to dissolve DACL,” Mahato wrote in a letter to Scindia, a copy of which is in possession of HT.

Mahato said the elephant corridor zone was in Chandil, 70 km from the DACL project site.

“The project site is 500 meters from the main road, and the 3 km approach road from NH-33 has been completed already. We are confident that the work on the DACL project will start shortly, with both the GoI and the state government agreeing to continue it,” said Mahato.

The Dhalbhumgarh airport, if and when it becomes operational, will benefit the people of Jharkhand’s industrial capital, Jamshedpur, and the West Singhbhum mining belt, and will also cater to the people in Odisha and West Bengal alike.

“The DACL project site is just 52 km from Jamshedpur, whereas the Ranchi airport is over 130 km away. Similarly, Kolkata airport is over 143 km from Kharagpur, over 3.30 hours drive away, but the DACL site is just 92 km away. Baripada and Baleshwar in Odisha are 80-90 km away from the DACL site, whereas Bhubaneswar is about 200-250 km, 4-5 hours of drive-away,” said Mahato.

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