Uttar Pradesh extends deadline for Noida airport pact with Swiss major

The flagship project will be developed under the aegis of the Noida International Airport Limited (NIAL)
The Uttar Pradesh government has extended the deadline for signing the concession pact with Swiss major Zurich Airport International (ZAI) to develop the greenfield Jewar international airport in Greater Noida due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions on transnational air travel.

The state cabinet meeting, held virtually last evening, presided over by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, took into account the prospective resumption of international flights between India, Malaysia and Switzerland, apart from the mandatory quarantine period for travellers.

Earlier, the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) CEO had sought the extension of the deadline for signing the concession agreement considering the restriction on international flights owing to the lockdown. The proposed airport will require nearly 1,450 hectares of congruous land for the first phase civil works spanning six villages in Greater Noida.

On August 11, the UP chief secretary-headed Project Monitoring and Implementation Committee (PMIC) had recommended for extending the deadline for signing the pact, and also extending the date of the bid validity and security, which was to expire on October 24, 2020, to March 2021.

Now, the deadline for signing the agreement with the Swiss corporation has been extended by 45 days from the resumption of India-Malaysia and India-Switzerland flights (whichever is later), and also including the mandatory 45 day quarantine period, or October 15, 2020, whichever is earlier.

The cabinet also extended the date of the bid validity and security, set to expire on October 24, 2020, to March 2021, thus giving a breather to the mega project. In June, the state cabinet had set the conditional deadline of August 17, 2020 for signing the pact.

The flagship project will be developed under the aegis of the Noida International Airport Limited (NIAL). The airport is expected to generate revenue of Rs one trillion for the state in 30 years when it becomes operational in 2023. According to the techno-economic feasibility report, the airport would handle 70 million passengers, and 3 million tonnes cargo annually when fully developed in different phases.

On December 9, 2019, the Adityanath cabinet had approved the proposal to award the flagship project to ZAI, which had emerged as the highest bidder offering per passenger fee of nearly Rs 401, thus beating three other competitors, including GMR Group-led Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), Adani Enterprises and Anchorage Infrastructure Investments Holdings.

The new airport will be designed, developed and operated under a 40-year concession period, and ZAI will invest more than Rs 4,500 crore in the first phase of the project, which will also decongest the New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).

In May last year, the state cabinet had approved the proposal to float global tender for the project apart from disbursal of Rs 895 crore towards rehabilitation and resettlement of affected private land owners. On July 6, 2017, the Centre had given site clearance for the airport and on October 5, 2017, the union home ministry accorded a no objection certificate (NoC).

In December 2017, Rs 1,800 crore was allocated by UP for land acquisition, while on May 9, 2018, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) gave in principle approval to the mega project. Conceived in 2000, the mega project had been hanging fire for the last two decades owing to regulatory and clearances hurdles during the previous Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and Akhilesh regimes in the state.

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