Sharma, who will take charge on Wednesday, said he would discuss the issue with the UP government and expects the proposal to be finalized within a month.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to develop world-class infrastructure in the country, which will help generate jobs,” Sharma told TOI in an interview after he was named minister of state for civil aviation, tourism and culture.
“I guess within a month, a proposal will be finalized and discussed at a higher level,” he said, but did not elaborate.
Sharma, a doctor and owner of a chain of hospitals in the Noida-Greater Noida area, said development of the region had suffered due to the poor law and order situation and faulty policies of the state government. An airport would help the area emerge as an industrial hub, he added.
“Strategically, Noida and Greater Noida have great potential to generate more jobs in north India, especially in western UP. There is a need to develop an airport in this belt,” he said. Noida has got a minister in the Union cabinet after nearly 10 years.
The idea of an international airport in the region is not new. In 2001, then UP chief minister Rajnath Singh had proposed an airport in Greater Noida. Later, the Mayawati-led BSP government also attempted to get approval for the project in Jewar, near Greater Noida.
But the AkhileshYadav government scrapped the project, citing a clause that bars development of a second airport close to an existing one.
This move was considered a major blow for local industries and hurt development in the region. In a damage control move, the Greater Noida Authority has proposed a heliport project but this too has suffered from government apathy.
Existing rules do not allow a second airport within a 150-km radius of an existing one, unless the latter is operating to capacity and is unable to meet the city’s demand. That is why Navi Mumbai, a suburb of the financial capital Mumbai, is getting an airport.
When asked on Monday if the new civil aviation policy would allow multiple airports in Indian cities, aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said: “We are not there yet.”
The issue of Noida getting an airport at Jewar was last raised about seven years ago when Mayawati became the CM of UP. On her first trip to Delhi to meet then PM Manmohan Singh, she had raised this demand. The PM had agreed to look into her request.
In Delhi’s case, the expansion plans for IGI Airport are such that they will meet the capital’s requirement till the late 2020s. The GMR Group is opposed to the idea of another airport for Delhi as it says that would render both the airports economically unviable. Because of these reasons, the Jewar airport project did not take off.
Moreover, Delhi International Airport Private Ltd (DIAL), which manages IGIA, enjoys the right to veto any second airport that conflicts with the mandatory 150km stipulation.
The UP government had acquired 2,471 acres of land, spread across 35 villages for the airport project in 2003.
The Yamuna Expressway Authority has planned to develop industries on some portions of land acquired for the airport in Jewar. The remaining land has been left vacant for development plans for the future.
“An international airport in this belt will definitely help the economy in the area, and help attract foreign investors. With the latest developments it appears that things will improve and the region will become a hub for industries,” said Aditya Ghildiyal, president, AGNI (Association of Greater Noida Industries).