Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister GM Quader has picked two sites from a list of four suggested by a cell for constructing a new international airport.
The minister asked the cell to give priority to the site at Char Janajat of Shibchar upazila in Madaripur for the project, said officials at the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh.
The other site is in Keyain of Sirajdikhan in Munshiganj.
The directives came after Joint Secretary Joynal Abedin Talukder, chief of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport Construction Cell, made a presentation on the four sites at the VIP lounge of Shahjalal International Airport on September 8.
The minister instructed the cell chief to conduct a pre-feasibility study on Char Janajat and Keyain, and submit a report to the ministry immediately, said Caab officials.
The report will be presented to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on her return from the USA, where she will attend the UN General Assembly.
The prime minister will pick a site for the proposed airport and the ministry will appoint a consulting firm to conduct feasibility study on it. Tenders will be floated for the project on completion of the study.
Quader recently told The Daily Star that the airport will be constructed under public-private partnership.
Sources said the cell has given top priority to Char Janajat for the project considering the availability of land, the site’s short distance from the capital, and easy access to the place by river for transporting aviation fuel.
The site is on the southern side of the Padma river — nearly 10 kilometres from Jazira point of the proposed Padma Bridge and 50 kilometres from zero point in the capital.
Char Janajat is a vast tract of land that emerged from the Padma river around 50 years ago, and now connected to the mainland. The proposed site covers nearly 72,000 acres of land in the north of Char Janajat.
Keyain of Sirajdikhan is only 18 km from zero point in the capital but the density of settlements is higher there than Char Janajat. Nearly 4400.51 acres of land including 390 acres of vested property and khas land is available in Sirajdikhan.
The two other sites selected primarily are Bhanga in Faridpur, nearly 62 km from zero point and Baghiar Beel in Madaripur and Gopalganj, about 110 km from the zero point.
The government had earlier selected Arial Beel in Munshiganj for the project, but later changed its decision in the wake of violent protests by locals.
Many experts at that time argued that the country does not need another international airport now; rather the existing ones should be expanded and renovated.
In response, the prime minister said the number of flights at Shahjalal International Airport will exceed one lakh a year in a decade and the airport will not be able to handle such a huge number of flights even after massive renovation.
Shariful Islam – Daily star