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Chennai airport development thru jt venture route planned

Ashwini Phadnis

With the Tamil Nadu Government showing keen interest in expediting the project, there should be little difficulty in the process being implemented quickly, officials said.

New Delhi , Oct. 25

THE Government is committed to the creation of a modern world-class airport in Chennai and plans to follow the same joint venture route that is being adopted for the development of airports in Delhi and Mumbai, official sources said here on Monday.

The issue also came up for discussion at the high-powered meeting which the Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Praful Patel, had with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, here recently.

Highly placed officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation said that there was a need to push for the development of the Chennai airport project as new green-field airports were coming up in Bangalore and Hyderabad and a major delay could affect the viability of the proposed modernisation programme.

Besides, with the Tamil Nadu Government showing keen interest in expediting the project, there should be little difficulty in the process being implemented quickly, officials said.

Sources indicated that just as in Delhi and Mumbai projects, the prospective joint venture partner in the Chennai airport modernisation programme would be allowed to hold a 74 per cent stake with a foreign direct investment (FDI) cap of 49 per cent. The rest of the minority stake will be with a public sector undertaking.

However, the Chennai airport modernisation project is unlikely to take-off before the two on-going airport modernisation projects in Delhi and Mumbai reach a certain level of "maturity," sources said.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Secretary, Mr Ajay Prasad, is to head the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) which is examining the bids received from parties interested in developing Delhi and Mumbai airports. Already, the four-member empowered Group of Ministers (e-GoM) is said to have cleared the names of nine of the 10 bidders who had submitted Expression of Interest to participate in the development and modernisation of the two metro airports.

Official sources said that the bid submitted by Videocon was the only one rejected out of the 10 bids received.

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