THE AKHILESH government on Monday decided to cancel the MoU it had signed with then civil aviation minister Ajit Singh during the UPA government two years ago for the development of three airstrips in the state into domestic airports.
The step is reportedly being taken as the current Modi government has shown no interest in the projects. The state government would now send a notice to the Airport Authority of India (AAI), cancelling all their previous agreements, said sources.
At a cabinet meeting held on Monday, it was also decided that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav would be authorised to take decisions in this regard once the AAI sends its reply to the state government.
The three airstrips in question include Meerut — home district of Ajit Singh — Moradabad and Faizabad. The MoU was signed between the UP government and AAI in Delhi in the presence of then civil aviation minister Ajit Singh on February 24, 2014.
The agreement was reportedly signed after then minister Ajit Singh had written several letters to the UP government, citing the need to expand air-connectivity. According to the MoU, the state government was supposed to provide land free of cost to the AAI. The state government has claimed it had started the process of identification and purchase of land for the expansion. Even funds for purchase of the land was also released. But sources said that following reluctance from AAI, the purchase was stopped mid-way a few months ago.
“In the last two years, we gave several reminders to the Airport Authority of India and the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation but nothing has started on ground… Its seems they are not interested in taking up these projects,” said Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan.
Asked about the future of these projects, Ranjan said the state government would develop these airstrips from its own funds now. “Besides cancellation of the MoU, airstrips in these three places, which were transferred to the AAI, will now come back to UP… We have the right to cancel the MoU since work has not even started in the last two years,” he added.
Meanwhile, sources said the AAI has indicated that it is not convinced of the future viability of these projects and has communicated the same to the state government informally. Besides these three airstrips, the state government also wanted to expand the airstrip at Saifai — the native place of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.