Many in Bengaluru are trapped in islands surrounded by swarms of unending traffic. Now there is new hope, but that too may be too little.
A gasping and trapped Bengaluru is trying all options to break free. Bengaluru is today a polluted island surrounded by traffic and more traffic. It takes over three, sometimes four, to reach the Kempagowda International Airport in Devanahalli from Electronic City.
To get out of this traffic mess, various options are being tried out – a new airport, air taxi, pod taxis, tunnels, flyovers and Metro.
Tamil Nadu has come forward to develop the Hosur Air Station at Belagondapalli village, Thally Road, as a viable domestic airport that would benefit Bengalureans, especially people in Electronic City that sits close to Tamil Nadu border near Hosur.
Plans are to start commercial airlines operations from this airfield under the Centre’s UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme. With this, people living in south-east Bengaluru (Electronics City and surrounding areas) will be able to reach Delhi or Mumbai sooner than reaching Kempegowda International Airport.
But then, there should be a government in Chennai to take the decision forward.
The airport at Hosur is only 35 km from Electronics City and takes around 30 minutes to reach compared to KIA which is around 80 km away.
It was former chief minister Late J Jayalalithaa who had initiated the step and had written to the Centre asking it to make use of defunct airports in the state. Last week, the Centre approved the use of Hosur airport under the UDAN scheme and the scheme was passed by the Cabinet.
Recently, the Tamil Nadu government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Civil Aviation to commence low-cost air services from Hosur airport. It said TruJet, a Hyderabad-based airline, is expected to mount flights from the airport soon. Currently, TruJet connects Bengaluru with Hyderabad, Rajahmundry, Tirupati, Vijaywada and Goa.
The airport at Hosur Road is maintained by Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Ltd (TAAL). It is a private airfield large enough to handle even Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s.
There is however one hitch. The Ministry of Civil Aviation and Bengaluru International Airport had signed an agreement in 2004 stating that “no new or existing airport (except for Mysuru and Hassan airports) shall be permitted by Government of India to be developed as, or improved or upgraded into, a domestic airport within an aerial distance of 150 km of the airport before the 25th anniversary of the airport opening date”. The proposed Hosur airport is just 60 km from Kempagowda Airport on air route.
Meanwhile, a committee comprising MPs from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have suggested air taxis as an alternative to circumvent the notorious traffic jams of Bengaluru.
The committee, headed by Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy, suggested that air taxis be operated to provide last-mile connectivity from and to airport from the city.
It has asked the government-owned Pawan Hans Ltd to look into the feasibility of operating a helicopter service.
Soon after Kempegowda International Airport was opened in 2008, Deccan Aviation had launched Skylimo helicopter services between the airport and city.
Three helipads were opened, one each in HAL airport, Electronics City and Whitefield, for choppers.
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A chopper ride to the airport would take only 15 minutes against 3 hours from Electronic City by road.
Other options being looked into are pod taxis and extending the Metro to the airport.
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