The Tamil Nadu government’s ambitious project to build an airport at the fast-growing industrial hub of Hosur may stumble on the prevailing policy of not allowing new airports within a 150­km radius of an existing airport.

Hosur is 74 km from the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru.

Citing the distance, the Centre has deleted Hosur from the UDAN document for future rounds of bidding. It did not award the Chennai-Hosur-Chennai route under the Regional Connectivity Scheme — Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) route.

What the agreement says

The Concession Agreement (CA) signed between the Centre and Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) does not permit for development, improvement, and upgradation of a new or existing airport (except for Mysore and Hassan airports) within an aerial distance of 150 km of KIA before 2033, said VK Singh, Minister of State of Civil Aviation in a reply to a query raised by Tamil Nadu Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament P Wilson on establishing the new Hosur airport.

The present Hosur airport is owned by Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Ltd. In the first round of bidding under UDAN, a bid was received for the operation of a flight between Chennai and Hosur. However, citing that the region is within 150 km from Kempegowda airport, the Hosur airport was deleted from the UDAN document for future rounds of bidding.

If the Centre refuses permission for the new airport at Hosur, it could lead to a confrontation between the State and the Centre as Hosur is going to be a major revenue-earning region in the future, and an airport could be crucial for the development, said an industry source.

In December 2021, Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Limited (Tidco) issued a request for a proposal to select a consultant for developing the airport.

Detrimental deal

Officials are confused with Singh’s reply on Hosur airport.

When asked if the new project could be dropped citing the 150-km distance clause, a source said, “Perhaps. I don’t have any idea.”

“When nearest airports like Mysore and Hassan are exempted, why not the same yardsticks apply to Hosur airport which is an important industrial place? Shouldn’t Hosur have good Air connectivity? How can the government of India enter such a contract detrimental to the interest of TN which is against the public interest? Such contract clause is void ab initio & Singh should take immediate steps to include Hosur Airport in UDAN,” Wilson tweeted.

Agreeing with Wilson, B Govindarajan, COO, Tirwin Management Services (P) Ltd, an aviation consultancy firm, said, “If Noida can have an airport within 150 km of Delhi airport, then why not Hosur have an airport to serve Tamil Nadu?”

Though one may claim that civil aviation is a Union government subject, a federal State’s aspirations and opportunities to grow can’t be curtailed by an illogical agreement between the government of India and BIAL.

“It is the right of Tamil Nadu to invest in their land and support its economic growth. Under the guise of a faulty agreement denying a rightful opportunity Tamil Nadu should be jointly contested by the people of Tamil Nadu,” he added.

Major industrial hub

Considering traffic growth and major demand drivers in Tamil Nadu’s northwest region, including industrial growth, regional economic growth, tourism, and per capita income growth, the State government intends to develop Hosur airport.

Hosur is also home to major manufacturing industries including Ashok Leyland, Titan, TVS Motors, Caterpillar, Sundaram Fasteners, and Schaffler. More recently, Ola set up a huge e-vehicle factory in the Krishnagiri district. Tata Electronics will invest ₹5,763 crore (creating 18,250 jobs) in the Krishnagiri district to manufacture mobile phone components.

Further, Delta Electronics and Mylan units are coming up in Kurubarapalli. The next big ones are TVS Motors and Cheyyar SEZ (footwear) company.

A full-fledged airport will help in the movement of people from and to the district, else they have to travel to Bengaluru or Chennai.