Little hope for Gulbarga airport as infrastructure firm backs out

The Gulbarga Greenfield Airport, taken up on public private partnership (PPP) model and already way behind schedule, is unlikely to see the light of the day anytime soon as the Mumbai-based firm that was entrusted with constructing the runway and allied works is backing out.

Roman Tarmat Infra Engineering Empire has begun withdrawing its men and machinery from the site of the project, saying the airport’s main promoter, the Regional Holdings International (RAHI), failed to make payments.

The Rs 186-crore airport project, being executed on 692 acres at Srinivas Saradgi village on Sedam Road, about 12 km from the city, was awarded to RAHI in November 2007, and construction began in April 2011. But it came to a halt the very month it was set to be completed — May 2012.

The Mumbai firm was entrusted with constructing a 1,900 m-long and 45 m-wide runway, including the runway extended surface area, at a cost of Rs 49 crore. It started the work in April 2011. The work included construction of isolation bay, apron and taxi way connecting the apron and isolation bay from the runway.

The work, however, came to a halt when RAHI failed to make payments to the company. It resumed only in November 2012, albeit at a slow pace. It came to a complete halt in February 2013. “For all practical purposes, work has been stopped for the last one-and-a-half years. We were told to pack up, hence we sending our men and machinery back to Mumbai,” the Gulbarga Greenfield Project in-charge, A P Vijay of Roman Tarmat, said.
In the first phase, a 1,900 m-long runway was planned. In the second phase, it was to be 3,000 m long. At present, the runway has been formed up to 1,900 m and basic work completed for taking up further extension. The present runway is sufficient for the landing and take-off of an 80-seat aircraft. Big aircraft like Airbus and Boeing will be able to operate when the runway is 3,000 m long.

According to Vijay, 75 per cent of runway work has been completed and the remaining 25 per cent can be completed in four months if serious efforts are made. When asked if the firm would resume work if a new promoter selected by the State government asked it to do so, Vijay said it would think it over.

Meanwhile, informed sources stressed that engaging a new company for completion of spillover work of runway would mean costs would go up. Works to be completed include total bituminisation of isolation bay, apron, taxi way and approach roads.

It is now up to the State government to explore an alternative for completion of the spillover work.

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