Praful Patel stalling airport transfer for MIHAN: Gadkari

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Nagpur, Dec 16 (UNI) BJP's Maharashtra unit President Nitin Gadkari today alleged that Union Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel was creating hurdles in the transfer of the city airport to the ambitious Multi-Modal International Air Passenger and Cargo Hub at Nagpur (MIHAN) project.

Speaking to reporters here, Mr Gadkari said Mr Patel was deliberately dragging his feet on the issue as he wanted the airport in Chakan (near Pune) to be completed before the project in Nagpur got off the ground. The BJP would launch an agitation and also begin a boycott of Mr Patel in Vidarbha if the airport was not transferred within a month, he said.

The Centre and the state governments had signed a contract for complete waiver of the Rs 250 crore stamp duty liable to be paid on the transfer of the airport to MIHAN, Mr Gadkari said. ''This contract is legally binding. The Centre, therefore, has to hand over the airport for the project, and cannot escape by saying that it has no legal obligation,'' he said.

Mr Gadkari said it was not necessary to place the proposal for the transfer of the airport before the union cabinet as the contract was already there. ''The officials who signed the document on behalf of the Centre could not have done so without proper approval and without clearance from the political bosses,'' he asserted.

The MIHAN project would boost development in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra and create over 3.5 lakh direct and indirect jobs, Mr Gadkari said, adding that all parties and leaders must rise above politics to ensure that the project was implemented.

The Nagpur airport is to be handed over to a joint venture company, with equity participation from the Government of Maharashtra and Airports Authority of India (AAI), for being developed as part of MIHAN.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has said in an affidavit before the High Court here that the airport transfer needed the Union Cabinet's approval and the consultation process, which involved administrative and financial approval of various ministries besides the Planning Commission, had been initiated. Although the consultation process was likely to be completed soon, no time frame could be indicated for receiving the approval of the union cabinet for the same, it has told the court.

UNI

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