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Industrial township status for new airport city in Bengal

An airport city project at Andal near Durgapur, around 160 km northwest of West Bengal capital Kolkata, has been granted “industrial township” status by the state government.

This empowers promoters of the township to act as a municipal authority, with the duty to collect taxes, sanction building plans and manage solid waste management.

The airport city at Andal, located between the industrial towns of Durgapur and Asansol, will be the first industrial township in the state. A project of Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited (BAPL), Singapore-based Changi Airports International has 32.2 per cent stake in it.

“This is the best thing that we could expect from the government,” BAPL promoter and managing director Partha Ghosh told Business Standard. The decision was taken by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday after a meeting with Changi officials during the Bengal Global Business Summit.

“This means we will have the authority to sanction building plans, provide power and water, and manage solid waste,” Ghosh said. According to officials, the 74th amendment to the Constitution of India incorporated the concept under Article 243Q, with special provisions for industrial towns, where no municipality is necessary. State governments are empowered to confer such status to projects if they think fit.

“With this, the project will become an autonomous body and shall have all the municipality powers and responsibilities,” an official said.

This industrial township status is the second such sop for the project. West Bengal has also decided to provide a three-year sales tax waiver on aviation turbine fuel to the airlines which would be operating out of the upcoming facility.

BAPL has been assigned 1,818 acres for the airport city project. The airport itself — named after poet Kazi Nazrul Islam — has been constructed over 650 acres.

The airport and allied infrastructure are almost complete and expected to be operational by March. The city would have an information technology park, hospitals and a residential complex.

GoAir could be the first airline to operate out of the new airport, flying on the Delhi-Durgapur route.

In a statement, BAPL said: “Go Air has expressed its interest to launch scheduled airline operations from Andal airport with the first flight linking this regional airport to the national capital, New Delhi.”

Mamata corroborated this claim at Bengal Global Business Summit, which ended on Thursday.

Speaking to Business Standard, Ghosh said: “GoAir flights may operate five to six days a week. Once it gets operational, I think others, too, will join.”

On Thursday, Pinnacle Air announced the proposed launch of their non-scheduled airline operation through small fixed-wing aircraft connecting regional airports of Andal and Cooch Behar in north Bengal to Kolkata. An agreement for this was signed between Pinnacle Air and the Government of West Bengal.

The airport project has been delayed by over an year and has missed several deadlines.

It was finally inaugurated in September last year and is still waiting for approval from aviation authorities. “We hope to get all the approvals before January-end,” Ghosh said.

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