Airport: Dagardarthi shelved, Ramayapatnam comes to fore

Nellore: The ruling party is playing a game of hide and seek in case of the proposed airport at Dagadarthi in Nellore. Consequently, the district administration is scouting for alternative lands in Kandukuru revenue division for constructing the new airport close to Ramayapatnam port.

Although officials are tight-lipped on the developments, local leaders say the proposed airport at Dagardarthi would be shelved and shifted to the Kandukuru division and the Chief Minister also hinted at the issue in the House on Tuesday.

In fact, the district administration identified around 3,407.77 acres of lands close to Damavaram, Dagadarthi, Velupodu and K Kourugunta villages for the airport in 2013, and subsequently, the Airports Authority of India expressed its nod for an initial acquisition of 614 acres and the Union government had accorded clearance in December 2015.

The Government of India enterprise, RITES, has prepared the feasibility study also and there were proposals to construct a low-cost, no-frills airport on the PPP mode which would be developed with Rs 368 crore.

The government had also spent around Rs 20 crore on compensation to the farmers who provided lands. Interestingly, Principal Secretary of Infrastructure and Investments Ajay Jain informed in 2017 that they had dropped the proposal owing to the huge compensation demanded by the farmers and the YSR Congress government simply cancelled the MoU between the State government and the SCL Turbo and announced handing it over to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for the construction.

The INCAP finally resumed works on Greenfield Airport in 2020 after YSR Congress came to power by inviting tenders for the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for commercial operations of passengers and cargo aircraft.

Suddenly, a decision was taken to shift the airport location when the Chief Minister attended the groundbreaking ceremony of Ramayapatnam Port in the Kandukuru revenue division which would be useful for both Nellore and Prasakam districts.

The new location will be between Ongole and Kavali, close to Ramayapatnam Port for supporting the port operations. This decision is also part of the State government’s plans to develop airport-linked industries and cargo handling facilities facilitating activities of Mega Industrial Hub close to Ramayapatnam Port.

“There are 1,000 acres of land available close to Ramayapatnam and are planning to attach some more lands even from the Prakasam district for completing the project. Once the land acquisition is over, there will be an official announcement by the government,” explained an official from the AP Airports Development Corporation Limited (APADCL).