Nagpur : Union Miniter and Nagpur MP Nitin Gadkari on Sunday indicated that the much-awaited Multi-modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) — an international air passenger and cargo hub — is no longer worth the attention it seemed to deserve till a few years ago. “I don’t think the cargo hub idea at MIHAN should be encouraged. We are planning a cargo hub at Sindi Rly in Wardha district,” Gadkari told mediapersons. The minister had called the press conference to inform about the proposed Inter Modal Station (IMS), described by him as India’s first.
The station is envisaged as the hub of all passenger transport modes in the heart of the city. Planned to come up on 600-700 acres, the project will be a joint venture between Railways and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). It is one of two such projects proposed in 2015 by then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Gadkari said, “The IMS would serve as a hub for passengers of all modes, from where it will be possible to get down and embark for different destinations using different modes of transport. We are also developing a logistics hub at Sindi Rly, which will serve as a redistribution point for cargo from across the country.”
Asked what then happens to the much publicised and awaited MIHAN, Gadkari said, “I don’t think it’s going to happen. I feel it should not be encouraged and should be restricted only to cargo brought in by aeroplanes.” Gadkari’s latest position on MIHAN comes as an about-turn from his earlier stand he had been taking about the two-decade-old project that has failed to take off ever since the conceptualisation stage.
The project envisaged at Nagpur due to its central location also has Special Economic Zone to encourage industrial production. An international airport, commensurate with the needs of air cargo and passenger hub, is also one of the major components of the project. On both the counts, however, MIHAN has made little progress over the last about 15 years despite competitive politics over it by both Congress-NCP alliance and then BJP-Shiv Sena alliance.
Before 2009 election, Gadkari had held a huge programme at Nagpur’s Yashwant stadium to spell out his dream of making MIHAN a success. It was attended by thousands of people, who were shown the dream of MIHAN becoming a veritable source of employment and a trigger for development of backward Vidarbha region.
Gadkari minced no words on Sunday to declare that the proposed IMS was also aiming at a target of the 2024 General Elections. “I want to complete it within 2-3 years before the next election. I wish to say it upfront,” Gadkari said.