Bangalore International Centre had arranged a discussion on “Should the HAL Airport be kept open?” on Friday, the 11th April, 2008 at 6.30 PM in its Auditorium.
The discussion was led by Dr. Vinod Vyasulu, Director, Centre for Budget & Policy Studies, Mr. V Ravichandar, CMD, Feedback Business Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd., and Mr. V P Baligar, I A S., Principal Secretary to Government of Karnataka, Department of Commerce and Industries. The discussion was presided over by Prof. S L Rao, Chairman, ISEC.
To state that the discussion was animated would be an understatement; it was one of the liveliest discussions held at Bangalore International Centre. In a spirited defence, Mr. Baligar pointed out that the inadequacies of the existing airport and the exponential growth in traffic made the development of a new airport absolutely essential and inescapable. According to him the logic of the circumstances was also firmly against the operation of two airports at Bangalore. Mr. Ravichandar contested this point and felt that the balance of advantage would lie in letting the existing airport to continue in a limited way. It was also his view that, if necessary, the authorities of HAL and BIAL could sit down together and work out a compensation package to be offered t BIAL to offset the financial disadvantages accruing out of the continuing operation of HAL Airport. Dr. Vinod Vyasulu, however, was of the opinion that HAL Airport would need to be compensated for the additional days they have had to keep the airport operational after the scheduled date of the closure of their operation was over. His conclusion was that this situation was entirely due to the inability of the BIAL to come on stream in time and hence BIAL should compensate HAL. The audience loved the discussion and energetically participated in it. At the end of the day, everyone realized that the last word on this contentious issue would come from the High Court where the issue has been taken up through PIL.