ISLAMABAD, Oct 30: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Tuesday said it was acquiring another 4,000 kanals of land at the site of the under-construction New Islamabad International Airport (NIIA) to build a second runway.

The original plan had a main and an emergency runway, however, it dawned upon the CAA management at a much later stage that they needed to build another runway to make the airport compatible with international standards.

Briefing mediapersons about the progress of the project, CAA Director Planning and Development Vikram Soda said that the process of land acquisition had been initiated through the Punjab government.

The cost of land was fixed at about Rs0.56 million per kanal. Owners would be getting additional amount for any construction on their land, he added.

The new airport is being built in Pind Ranja near Fatehjang. Some 3,500 acres of land had already been acquired for the project expected to cost Rs35 billion.

The earlier land acquisition process that continued for about a couple of decades was marred by allegations of corruption and favouritism. It had been alleged that CAA had violated the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, while acquiring some additional chunks of land during the first phase.

The runways being constructed at the airport, Mr Soda said, would be of Category E — capable of handling even the most modern aircraft like the recently launched A-380.

The CAA official claimed that the site preparation work was on course and 54 per cent of it had been completed since the project took off in April this year. He hoped that the contractors would be able to complete the site preparation ahead of their scheduled completion date of February 2008.

About the progress on design preparations for what is being billed as the most modern and state-of-the-art airport in the region, Mr Doda said that preliminary design had been prepared, which would be finalised in three months.

CAA has decided to divide the construction contract into two packages.

The contract for the first package comprising airside works would be awarded in January next with a completion time of 24 months. The second package contract, which included construction of terminal building and the ancillary structures, would be awarded in February 2008, which would take 30 months to complete.

Brushing aside concerns about the financial viability of the project, CAA Director-General Farooq Rehmatullah said that the payback period for the new airport project is estimated to be 10- 12 years, which is good according to the industry standards.

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