The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, penned down a letter to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, regarding the land clearance and No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the development of Bhogapuram Airport in Visakhapatnam. In his letter, he requested the PM to direct the Ministry of Civil Aviation to unconditionally provide site clearance and NOC for the Bhogapuram Airport.
The letter written by CM Jagan is as follows:
I would like to draw your kind attention to one of the critical issues which is of vital importance to the State of Andhra Pradesh, and which is emanating from the provisions of the A.P Reorganization Act, 2014. As per Section 93 of AP Reorganization Act, the Central Government shall take all necessary measures to examine the feasibility and work towards the expansion of the existing Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Tirupati airports to international standards within six months from the appointed day. The number of flights will need to be increased manifold to elevate these airports to International standards.
The Airport at Visakhapatnam plays an important role in development of Visakhapatnam as an economic and tourism hub . in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Thus, it needs to operate several civil flights to support this industry and incubate further growth. Visakhapatnam Airport is surrounded by hills on three sides, and hence, for safety considerations, civil flights can take off and land in only one direction. These places a limit of only 10 movements per hour. While current requirement of both civil and military flying is being met, the number of Naval and civil flights are expected to increase substantially in the immediate future, in accordance with the growing security imperatives for the nation on the Eastern Seaboard and effort of the state to improve the tourism industry in Visakhapatnam.
Through various correspondence addressed to Chief of Naval Staff, Ministry of Defence, Government of India and the Government of Andhra Pradesh ( Enclosed as Annexure I & II ), the Flag Officer Commanding – in – Chief, Eastern Naval Command has stated following reasons for not shifting Naval Air Station at INS Dega to Bhogapuram:
a . INS Dega has transformed into a potent Naval Air Station on the Eastern Seaboard. The proposed shifting would lead to long term disruption and reduction of operational effectiveness on the Easter Seaboard.
b . Unlike wide bodies Civil Aircraft, military aircraft do not have unidirectional landing / take off limitations at Visakhapatnam. Thus, the airfield is intrinsically suitable for military flying operations and unsuitable for civil aircraft . Bhogapuram having no topographical limitation, would have a bi-directional runway and be used by only civil aircraft , adding to efficiency in commercial ops.
c . Infrastructure customized for operations of Naval aircraft has been raised at INS Dega over decades, through meticulous planning. Replicating this infrastructure would take time and incur large costs. The proposal to shift Naval Air Base to Bhogapuram would therefore be economically unviable.
d . INS Dega’s proximity to Naval Dockyard (Visakhapatnam) offers optimization of operational and technical factors. This optimization would be lost in case of displacement of INS Dega.
e . Airfield specific procedures for concurrent and safer operation of Fighters, MR and Helicopters with Fleet Integration have been formulated through years of evaluation.
With above observations stated by the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, there is no other choice but to shift the civil aviation traffic to Bhogapuram. The Government of Andhra Pradesh has decided to develop a greenfield international airport at Bhogapuram, Visakhapatnam on PPP mode as a civil enclave of the existing Visakhapatnam Airport at naval base (INS Dega, Eastern Naval Command).
The Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt of India has accorded its ‘Site Clearance approval for setting up the Greenfield International Airport at Bhogapuram in 2016 with conditions to compensate Airport Authority of India ( AAI ). The validity of the ‘Site Clearance and NOC’ approval issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India has expired. Since 2018, though the State Government has identified the PPP partner implementation of the project, the project has not progressed the desired pace due to non-issuance of ‘Site Clearance & NOC’ approval to Airport and several conditions being put up by MOCA to compensate Airport Authority of India (AAI).
To synergize the viewpoints of the Ministry of Defence ( Navy ), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) it is suggested that MOCA provides unconditional fresh site clearance for New Greenfield International Airport of Vishakhapatnam at Bhogapuram, at the earliest.
Given the importance of the project, I request your kind self to direct the Ministry of Civil Aviation to issue site clearance and NOC for International Airport at Bhogapuram.
Will the Prime Minister consider AP CM Jagan’s request and provide site clearance and NOC for the development of an International Airport at Bhogapuram? Share your opinions in the comments section below.