Paradip airstrip project on track

Kendrapara: Clouds of uncertainty hovering over the airstrip project in the Port town of Paradip are showing signs of getting dissolved.

The ambitious project envisaged by state government was stuck in cold store as unavailability of required land had posed stumbling block to the much-awaited airstrip.

The project was grounded in various bottlenecks and had failed to take off following the long-standing land row between the government and Paradip Port Trust (PPT). "With amicable settlement of land row recently, signs are positive for re-launch of the airstrip project," Additional District Magistrate (ADM) of Paradip, Surajit Das said today.

PPT had laid claim over a patch of land at Bhitargada that was earmarked for the airstrip project on the outskirts of port town. It had moved court challenging acquisition of the said land on the ground that it had legal right over it under the provisions of major ports of India act. However, PPT has recently agreed to withdraw the litigation from court and part with the land for airstrip project, the ADM claimed.

"Consensus has emerged. Talks held recently should yield results. By all indications, land row involving the state government and the port would be resolved soon," said Narayan Chandra Jena, Collector, Jagatsinghpur.

PPT authorities have given consent to part with the land for use of the state government in different patches. The state government had asked for land within the port limits for airstrip, state government offices and institutions, maritime academy, fisheries and extension of irrigation canal.

With the Centre bracketing Paradip under mega petroleum, chemicals and petro-chemical investment region (PCPIR), importance of the area has gone up. Moreover, the town awaits to be an industrial hub with two major steel projects, oil refinery and many ancillary units in pipeline.

"State government is intent on having an airstrip of its own. Civil aviation ministry has also approved the project. As airstrip is necessary in view of industrial growth of Paradip and nearby areas. The project still remains on top of the administration`s agenda," said Das, ADM Paradip.

Presently Paradip Port Township is bereft of air connectivity. With various big-ticket industrial ventures queueing up for establishing base here, the need for air link to Paradip has assumed added significance. The National Highway 5 (A) and Cuttack-Paradip state highway are the only existing hassle-free road links to gain access to the port town.