Lotus-shaped Shivamogga airport cost shoots up

Lotus-shaped Shivamogga airport cost shoots up

Construction site of the airport. Credit: DH Photo

The cost of the upcoming Shivamogga greenfield airport, about 300 km from Bengaluru, has gone up from Rs 220 crore to Rs 384 crore, after Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa ordered that it must be upgraded to operate larger aircraft. 

Also, the terminal of the airport, which is coming up in Yediyurappa’s home district, will be shaped like a lotus, according to sources in the Infrastructure Development Department (IDD). 

Originally, the airport was planned to operate smaller air traffic - ATR-72 day visual flight range operations - suited for low-cost regional carriers. However, Yediyurappa directed authorities to make the airport viable for all-weather, night-time and Airbus A-320 operations, pushing up the cost significantly. 

The decade-old project started out with an estimated cost of ₹40 crore.

According to IDD sources, the push to upgrade the Shivamogga airport came from Shimoga MP B Y Raghavendra, who is also Yediyurappa’s son. Both Yediyurappa and Raghavendra have been bullish on the airport project. 

In June, Yediyurappa flagged off the construction of the airport, which is coming up at Sogane village, about 12 km from Shivamogga city. The government hopes that the airport will boost tourism and industrial activity in the region. The plan to upgrade the airport will not have a bearing on the completion time, IDD principal secretary Kapil Mohan said, adding that the project would be ready in 18 months. 

The first phase of works will cover the airport’s runway, taxiway, apron, approach roads, peripheral roads and the compound wall. This has been awarded to Ibrahim Shareef, a Class-1 contractor. A second package for the construction of the terminal building, ATC tower, electro-mechanical works among others is awaiting approval to be given to another Class-1 contractor V P Karikal. 

It was proposed that Shareef and Karikal be awarded the works required to upgrade the airport "because of similarities in the works of the first phase". However, this faced resistance from officials. As a result, Shareef will take up the entire first phase of works, whereas a fresh tender will be floated for the second phase, according to a government order. 

The project, now fast-tracked, languished since 2009 when its foundation stone was laid by Yediyurappa, who was the CM then. 

The Shimoga Airport Developers Pvt Ltd, a joint venture firm, had bagged the contract in December 2010 and work was to be completed in 24 months. Eventually, in 2015, the agreement was cancelled because work was not completed within the stipulated time.