Coal hurdle for Andal airport city near Durgapur cleared

Andal airport

A major hurdle for the upcoming airport at Andal near Durgapur was cleared after union coal ministry cancelled the allocation of the coal block that lies underneath the area where the Airport City and the airport is being built.

However the most critical obstacle is yet to be crossed, as impasse over fresh land acquisition for shifting of the
High Tension power transmission cables from near the airport runway continues.

The former Left government had acquired 1,818 acres in 2009-10 and given it to Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd (BAPL) to build an airport on 650 acres and use the rest of the land for industrial, institutional and residential purposes.

Inaugural ceremony of the Andal airport

The location of the Moira-Madhujore block beneath the proposed airport site at Durgapur’s Andal had raised safety concerns as subsidence is not uncommon in sites of coal extraction. Sources said 1,729.74 acres of the 2,224-acre coal block fell in the area of the Andal Airport City project. They said 98 acres of the surface needed to be dug for mining.

Moira-Madhujore Coal Limited (MMCL), a consortium of six companies was allocated the block in 2008. The consortium had even moved the high court objecting to the co-existence of the two projects.

In a recent move the coal ministry has cancelled the allocation of the Moira-Madhujore coal block in Bengal. MMCL is yet to obtain environmental clearance, one of the criteria the coal ministry considers while reviewing idle blocks.

The decision on de-allocation was taken on February 11 after a central inter-ministerial group of coal, steel, law and power ministry officials reviewed 61 coal blocks across the country on February 7 and 8.

An MMCL official said: “The (mining) project would have given employment to a lot of people and given access to huge natural resources.”

A member of the inter-ministerial group said it was “unlikely” that the coal block would be given to any other company for mining. “If it has been de-allocated for safety reasons as an airport is coming up there, the reason will be cited in the future too.”

Meanwhile, a BAPL source said the company would “soon apply to the director-general of civil aviation for the license to operate the airport”.

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