Karnataka govt favours two airports

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Bangalore, Jun 20 (UNI) The BJP government in Karnataka today favoured two airports for this IT capital and urged the Civil Aviation Ministry to resume civilian operations in the now closed HAL airport.

Speaking to reporters on the sideliens of the 4th CII Innovation Summit-2008, Karnataka IT and BT Minister Katta Subramanium Naidu said the state government thinks that it was feasible to operate the old HAL airport and the New Bengaluru International airport simultaneously.

His reaction comes in the wake of vociferous demand by the IT industry, which is concentrated around Whitefield and Electronic City areas near the HAL airport, but more than 60 km away from the new airport. They had said HAL airport should be retained for short haul flights.

The HAL airport was closed down on May 23, when the new airport began its operations.

However, the private promoters of BIAL, a consortium of Zurich International Airports Ltd, Siemens and L&T, opposed the move saying under the concessional agreement signed between the Centre and the promoters, no airport will be allowed to operate civilian flights in the 150 km radius of the new airport near Devanahalli, about 40 km North of the city.

''The industry wants two airports for Bangalore and we think it is feasible. There are many cities in the world which have two airports.

It is not wrong to retain the old airport,'' he said.

Mr Naidu said there was still scope for a dialogue between the Centre and the BIAL. ''We want Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel to interact with all stakeholdes and work out an amicable solution at the earliest.

The Karnataka government, which had extended a Rs 350 crore interest-free loan and provided nearly 4,000 acre of land, has a 26 per cent stake in the greenfield airport.

UNI RS VV SR RN1829

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