Keeping in mind the Sai Baba Samadhi centenary utsav, scheduled to be held in 2018, the state government has sped up the work on Shirdi airport. Several crore devotees are expected to visit the shrine on the occasion.Meanwhile, connectivity from Mumbai to Shirdi is also expected to increase further, as the state tourism department is all set to launch helicopter services from Juhu airport and seaplane services from the Girgaum Chowpatty.According to a rough estimate, around 2-2.5 crore devotees visit Shirdi annually. A senior state government official said the development was discussed in the meeting of the Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation (MADC), which was chaired by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday last week.In order to expedite the airport work, the state-owned MADC has decided to complete the work on its own instead of opting for the public-private partnership (PPP) route for the second phase. The phase includes construction of an air traffic control (ATC) building and augmenting the capacity of the terminal building to handle 300 passengers per hour, including 150 arrivals and departures each.”This will allow for the internationalisation of flights in four to five months. As and when we get permissions, we also have plans to start seaplane services to Shirdi and other places from the Girgaum chowpatty. According to us, operations from Girgaum Chowpatty will be more acceptable to people rather than from the Juhu airport,” said a state government official.In a related development, the government is also looking to fast-track the development of Greenfield airports in Pune and Solapur. The capacity of the existing airports in Dhule and Chandrapur will also be augmented.The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) will reach its saturation point in a few years, even as the work on the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) is yet to begin.Maharashtra also plans to announce a regional air connectivity policy after the one introduced by the Government of India is finalised. The policy will boost regional development and attract investment by developing regional air connectivity at district and regional headquarters and smaller centres across Maharashtra.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

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Maharashtra to expedite Shirdi airport construction