New Delhi: Devotees of Sai Baba would soon be able to fly to the pilgrim town of Shirdi in Maharashtra`s Ahmadnagar district with an environment panel giving nod for construction of an airport at a cost of Rs 315 crores near the temple.
The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Environment Ministry, in a recent meeting, approved the project noting that it meets ecological concerns and would
take care of domestic as well as international traffic visiting the famous pilgrim site.
This is perhaps the first major project in Maharashtra which has got a green signal even as the proposed Navi Mumbai airport and Peddar flyover road project in the state awaits
Regarding Shirdi airport, the panel noted that there were no settlements at the site except a few farmhouses for which compensation will be provided as per state government
Also there are no protected sensitive areas near the proposed site, the Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) submitted at the meeting.
The connectivity of Shirdi is critical for future growth as the number of tourists visiting the religious site has increased over the last 20 years.
The development plan of Shirdi was prepared in 1992 envisaging an airport spread over an area of 340 hectares.
Recommending the proposal for green clearance, the EAC has asked the project proponent to ensure a thick green belt of adequate width all around the airport site and ensure that no fruit tree shall be planted near it.
The MADC is expected to complete the project in 12 months time. It will also construct a one-km two-lane road from Shirdi-Kopargaon road to the airport site.
However, the EAC at the meeting deferred expansion and modernisation plan of Solapur Airport in Solapur district in the state and sought more details on the project.