Prez perks: Rs 400-cr airport for Patil's hometown

New Delhi: The Maharashtra state administration is gearing up to develop the infrastructural facilities in Amravati, the hometown of President Pratibha Patil. A new airport with an estimate budget of Rs 400 crore will be built soon in Amravati. This construction has been approved inspite of Nagpur airport being just a three-hour drive away from Amravati.

The decision to spend crores for an airport has been taken even as the state government remains unwilling to write off the loans of debt-ridden Vidarbha farmers.

Meanwhile, President of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, Kishor Tiwari told CNN-IBN that he will speak to the President regarding the matter.

“Vidarbha and Amravati has lakhs of families in deep distress. Over 3,000 families have been affected by farmer suicides. But the state government is not spending Rs 50 crore for food security but is ready to spend Rs 400 crore for a new airport. This is very unfortunate. We will talk to Pratibha tai and then take to the roads,” Tiwari said.

Reacting sharply to the allegation that farmers are getting a raw deal while more is being spent on infrastructural development, Managing Director of Maharashtra Airport Development Company, RC Sinha said Government funds are not being misused.

“Amravati is major business hub. Nagpur is 350 kms so infrastructure is needed for development. It’s wrong to say that we are ignoring other developments or funds are misused. Cultivators are themselves volunteering lands because they want to shift from primary to secondary sector,” Sinha explained.

The initial plan was to upgrade the existing airstrip in the town. But as the National Highway Number 6 and the Yavatmal-Amravati Highway were proving a hindrance, on Saturday, it was decided that a new airport will be built, enabling the President and her family to fly directly to their hometown.

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has also confirmed that the decision is final.

"We expect that she may visit Amravati around five times a year and we are looking at strengthening the existing infrastructure, including airport and rail network, to facilitate her arrival and stay," PTI quoted Minister of State for Finance Sunil Deshmukh as saying.

Around 300 hectares of land belonging to Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation and 100 hectares of state government land could be used for upgrading the airport.

The proposal to improve the facilities started after a series of embarrassments resulting from Patil's first trip as President to her hometown a month ago.

On the cards is a Raj Bhavan-like guest house, an airport, and the linking of the Amravati and Badnera railway stations.

Prez perks: Rs 400-cr airport for Patil's hometown - Yahoo! India News