AAI not cooperating to develop 3 airports in WB: Mamata Banerjee

Balurghat airport, originally spread on 155.45 acre land, has been lying inoperational since 1986, and the AAI's bid to build the boundary wall around it could not succeed owing to encroachment

Airports in West Bengal

Kolkata: The proposed plan of the West Bengal government to develop three inoperative airports for commercial flights has been kept in abeyance allegedly due to the political tussle between the Centre and the state.

At a meeting, WB chief minister Mamata Banerjee had alleged that plan to set up three airports in the state was being delayed for an indefinite period, as the Centre is not giving permission.

“The WB government has proposed to develop civilian airports at Balurghat, Cooch Behar, and Malda, all in north Bengal. The state government has also earmarked land for these three proposed new airports. But the process is stuck, as the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) is not providing us with the necessary permission,” she said while chairing an administrative review meeting for West Midnapore district at Kharagpur town on Thursday.

The WB CM further claimed that the Central government is not deliberately releasing funds under different centrally sponsored schemes ‘out of sheer jealousy’. “West Bengal is topper in implementation of different Centrally sponsored schemes. This has made the Union government jealous and it deliberately stopped releasing funds under different central schemes,” she said.

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Banerjee, however, asked the officials to explore the ways to complete the ongoing projects, the Central assistance for which has been stopped, as the state needed not wait for the mercy of the Union government any more. “We will complete our pending projects from the development funds allotted to MPs and MLAs,” she said.

Balurghat airport, originally spread on 155.45 acre land, has been lying inoperational since 1986. Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials claimed that they were not able to construct the boundary around the airport because of the encroachment. Problem had been there ever since the AAI decided to renovate the existing airport with a thought of resuming commercial flights three years ago.

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The BJP’s national vice president, Dilip Ghosh claimed that the central funds were stopped because of blatant misuse of funds and the inability of the state government to provide utilisation certificates of past expenditure. “In many cases, the names of the central projects were changed so that the state government can project it as a state project. As usual the chief minister is trying to mislead people by disseminating wrong information,” he alleged.

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