Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday announced that a suitable site for the proposed international airport at Agra would be finalized by March next year.

The decision was taken after a detailed presentation made by the consortium of Rites Ltd and KPMG Advisory Services Pvt Ltd, the selected consultants for this project, officials said. The consultants were asked to identify the best-suited site by the end of current financial year and were told that the project site should be selected in a way, so as to enable prompt clearances and approvals for the implementation without any hindrances.

The government has assured full cooperation at all levels to ensure time-bound execution of the project, to be developed through public-private partnership (PPP) mode. Industrial and Infrastructure Development Commissioner (IIDC) Anil K. Gupta said that development of an international airport in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal will enhance the tourist inflow and also cater to needs of frequent fliers, entrepreneurs and exporters from the region."Moreover, as it is proposed to be constructed close to upcoming Agra-Lucknow access-control expressway, industrial products from the region including Aligarh, Firozabad, Kanpur, Agra, Etawah will find an easily accessible exit point as export cargo." "The proposed airport will also ease the access to various proposed tourist projects and other world heritage sites in the area along with Agra Fort, Buland Darwaza and Fatehpur Sikri," he added.

Stressing on the importance of an international airport in Agra, Director General Tourism, Manoj Kumar said that target was to increase the Taj Mahal-bound tourist volume of 40 lakhs to one crore during the next five years. He said that 40 percent of foreign tourists to India come here to see the Taj Mahal.

The consultants have been tasked to carry out necessary surveys for evaluating various site options and selecting the best site possible as well as to prepare a techno-economic feasibility report, master plan, the bid documents and concession agreements for selection of developer.

The feasibility studies and surveys will involve site selection, traffic forecast, financial and revenue models, meteorological and topography data compilation, bearing on other airports, and other such matters. If everything goes as per plan, Agra will have an international airport within four to five years, said the officials.

(Agencies)

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