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Bangalore Airport expansion to get approval

After a controversial clearance of the Navi Mumbai Airport in five months ago, the Bangalore Airport’s expansion plans seem set for a smooth take-off. The project, which would increase the airport capacity by 50%, has won the crucial Environmental Appraisal Committee approval, clearing the way for final approval at the hands of environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

“The Committee recommends the proposal for Environment Clearance with the above condition in the Clearance letter for strict compliance by the project proponent,” the Committee noted, stipulating that at least 2% of the airport profits should be set apart for social welfare activities. The minister rarely overturns the decisions of the Experts Committee and its nod is considered a precursor to full clearance.

The Bangalore Airport, which has a capacity of handling 11.4 million passengers a year, is expected to hit its full capacity as early as this year. The two-year-old airport handled around 9.3 million passengers in 2009 and faces congestion issues at peak times. Airport authorities were planning to start the expansion late last year, but the project was yet to get the mandatory final environmental clearance.

The expansion will increase the total area of the airport by 86% to 1.34 lakh sq m and more than double the number of passenger seats of 5000 and check-in counters. The security, customs and immigration spaces would also be revamped under the 18-month project.

The Airport is 74% owned by private groups including Siemens and GVK, while the remaining is with the state government.

The company has shown a total expenditure of Rs 978 crore in its application for environmental clearance. The expansion would not require any more land acquisition, easing the clearance.

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