Airport expansion: Government likely to adopt land-pooling method

The Centre is working on adopting the land-pooling methodology as an alternative mechanism for development and expansion of airports. This is being done to overcome the challenges that come with unavailability of land due to the surge in compensation cost for airport expansion projects since January 2015, when the First Schedule to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, kicked in.

“If the proposal receives an approval at the Government of India level then states will probably have to adopt some of the features of land-pooling in their respective state acts to give it legal teeth. It may take some time but the way I look at it, it is the way forward to plan airports in Indian cities

“Most of the airports are in congested parts of the city now that there is no scope for growth, and land acquisition in fully constructed areas around airports is difficult. The ministry is looking at the land-pooling method, which has been done in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra,”

Recently, representatives from Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh made presentations to senior officials in the civil aviation ministry, including both ministers and the secretary, about their experiences “on the effectiveness of land-pooling” as an alternative to land acquisition for developing urban infrastructure. “Based on that, we gave an assignment to the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), Ahmedabad for three greenfield airports to see whether they can be planned using land-pooling, and three brownfield airports to see whether they can be expanded
On account of high passenger traffic growth in the country, a severe capacity constraint for expansion of infrastructure at various airports is also being experienced. Therefore, for AAI, while plans have been chalked out to expand capacities of terminals and bays at airports, data shows that many of the airports will reach saturation even after being expanded for lack of land availability.

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Home Ministry set to take over Bureau of Civil Aviation Security

THE UNION Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is set to move a proposal before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for taking over the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), currently under the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). The move, initially opposed by MoCA, was proposed on the ground that security at airports is provided by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which reports to the MHA.

BCAS is responsible for laying down standards, policies and measures with regard to security of all commercial flights. Multiple agencies working at airports, including the Intelligence Bureau, immigration officials, security personnel, local police, are bound by regulations passed by BCAS. Asked about MoCA’s objections, the official, who did not want to be named, said: “Discussions in this regard have been held at the top level involving the PMO and NSA, after which this decision has been taken, keeping in mind the safety and security of airports.

Once the Cabinet gives its approval, the CISF will assume a larger role in airport security.The new set-up will help in better coordination and monitoring, since the CISF, IB and state intelligence all report to MHA.”

The decision is based on a security audit conducted by a team of experts from the MHA, IB, CISF and BCAS, which had recommended the change.

Another reason cited for taking control of BCAS is the issue of security clearances for airlines and airports, granted by the MHA.

The move may result in an increase in passenger security fee since the CISF will be deployed at all the 98 airports across the country, said the official.

Set up as a cell in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in 1978, after an Indian Airlines flight was hijacked in September 1976, BCAS was reorganised as an independent department under the MoCA on April 1, 1987, as a follow-up to the Kanishka bombing in June 1985. It is currently headed by a commissioner of security.

In 2012, the then UPA government moved a proposal to set up an exclusive Aviation Security Force (ASF), under the control of BCAS, to replace CISF at airports, following the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s recommendation. However, the proposal was rejected by the NDA government, which decided to strengthen the CISF instead.

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