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Aerotropolis now

Ritwik Mukherjee     March 17, 2008

As more and more airports are being built by private sector players, a buzzword that’s emerged is the aerotropolis—a cluster of aviation-related enterprises (including hotels and business parks) around an airport. Bengal Aerotropolis Project Ltd (BAPL) is one of the country’s first aerotropolis (another such project is in Hyderabad, being developed by the GMR Group). BAPL and Singapore’s Changi Airports recently signed an agreement in Kolkata to create an aerotropolis at a proposed airport in Durgapur. Changi will operate as the airport service provider.

BAPL is a joint venture between Pragati 47 Development Ltd, Citystar Infrastructures Ltd, Lend Lease Company (India) Ltd and Pragati Social Infrastructure & Development Ltd (which in turn is a joint venture with the Housing & Urban Development Corporation) and Asansol Durgapur Development Authority. The company plans to invest nearly Rs l0,000 crore to develop a 2,300-acre aerotropolis in the Asansol-Durgapur region of West Bengal. The project promises to house an industrial park with factories, an IT park, a township, a theme park and office parks. Townland Consultants Ltd of Hong Kong is the project consultant. The entire project is scheduled for completion by January 2015, but the airport and first phase of the township and industrial park will come up in 30 months from taking possession of the land, says Partha Ghosh, Director, BAPL.

“The entry of the private sector in airport development is likely to see several airport-cities coming up in the country in the years to come. A beginning has already been made with the modernisation of the Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kochi airports under public-private-participation (PPP). Now investors are looking at nonmetro airports. In fact, we are also looking at some other non-metro airports,” says Ghosh.

Ghosh feels that most of the 35 non-metro airports have the potential to be converted into aerotropolises. It’s a new concept in India but well recognised in the West, where airports are not confined to just travel and transportation but are also drivers of other businesses. “These aerotropolises, if planned properly, can decongest the metros and create regional agglomerations,” adds Ghosh.

The proposed airport in Durgapur will have a full-length runway (with provisions for more runways). The airport is expected to handle traffic of 400,000 passengers by 2010-11; by the third year of operation, it is expected to handle half a million passengers.

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