MoEFCC Allows Diversion Of Forest Land For International Airport In Odisha’s Puri

Bhubaneswar: A month after site clearance approval, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has approved diversion of forest land for the Odisha government’s ambitious Shree Jagannath International Airport project at Puri.

While the airport will come up over an area of around 1,164.75 acre at an estimated cost of Rs 5,631 crore, the MoEFCC has accorded clearance for 68.81 acre of forest land. Of the remaining, 221.89 acre are privately-owned and the rest state government land in Sipasarubali and Sandhapur under Brahmagiri tehsil.

“Forest clearance has been obtained for the airport project following the district level committee reports. While the government land has already been demarcated and a boundary wall constructed around it, the process has begun for acquisition of private land with the notification. The land losers will be paid compensation after benchmark valuation,” a revenue official of Puri was quoted as saying by TNIE.

The district administration has issued a preliminary notification under section 11 (1) of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 regarding acquisition of 153.78 acre in Sipasarubali and 68.11 acre in Sandhapur. People have been asked to submit objection, if any, by January 3.

Notably, no rehabilitation and resettlement is required as the land parcels are free of human habitations.

Sources further said that the state government is also in the process of appointing a consultant for preparing detailed project report (DPR) for grant of ‘in-principle’ approval of the steering committee on greenfield airports. Work on the airport can start early next year, if every other process, including completion of necessary formalities with all regulatory bodies and government agencies which are a pre-requisite for the in-principle approval, is completed on time, the sources added.

On January 1, 2021, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to establish an international airport at Puri which will help promote Jagannath culture as land constraints stalled expansion of Bhubaneswar airport, which was getting busier by the day due to the high footfall of tourists and pilgrims to Puri, which is about 65 km from the Odisha capital.

The CM sought his intervention to expedite the process during a visit to Delhi in May. Later that month, Naveen, during the flagging off of the Puri-Howrah Vande Bharat Express train by the PM virtually, invited him to inaugurate the airport once it is ready with his support within three to four years.

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