Aviation Ministry to resurvey ‘Chiethu’ airport site
DIMAPUR, JANUARY 25
THE Ministry of Civil Aviation has conceded to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio’s appeal to “review” the central government’s decision rejecting the state’s proposed ‘Chiethu Greenfield airport’ in Konia district. On the other hand two of the other three “Greenfield airports” in the North East – have already received the centre’s nod. Namely Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh) airport in estimated at Rs 699.66 crore and the Gangtok Pakyong Airport in Sikkim projected at Rs 358.36 crore by the Sikkim government was likewise swiftly approved by the Airport Authority of India. Press secretary to the Chief Minister Abu Metha confirmed that the ‘review’ by the Aviation ministry translates to ‘resurveying’ the site that had been finalised in 2004.
“Ten years later, technology has changed, aircrafts have changed. So now they have agreed that a new survey would be carried out at the Kohima site, Besides, the state government is of the view that hilly state like Nagaland it is not like you suddenly find an alternative site. We have to make do with whatever we have and the state government has already extensively surveyed the site while the state has already compensated the landowners,” Metha said.
In 2010 the then Chief Secretary of Nagaland had also disclosed to this correspondent that, the state government had paid close to Rs 8 crore as compensation to landowners for the Chiethu land, falling under Chechama, in Kohima district.
The news to resurvey the site comes as a shot in the arm for the state government especially as it comes close on the heels of the Prime Minister’s Office categorically telling the visiting Naga government leaders to look for an alternate site either than Chiethu on January 20, 2014.
Further, in 2010, the Civil Aviation ministry, was close to trashing the proposal owing to the exorbitant’ cost of the project outlay of Rs 1231 crore, made in 2006. The cost was deemed uneconomically unfeasible for a remote region. And as recent as March 2013, the project almost received the pink slip for the supposedly exorbitant cost outlay.