Thursday, April 18, 2024

Baljek Airport: No respite from limbo


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SHILLONG, Feb 20: Baljek Airport, located on the outskirts of Tura town, will remain defunct a little longer than expected as bidders seem uninterested in operating smaller flights from the airport.
Replying to a query by TMC MLA from Ampati Miani D Shira, Deputy Chief Minister in-charge Transport, Sniawbhalang Dhar said that the chief minister has written multiple letters to the Centre. A delayed reply from the Ministry of Civil Aviation revealed that no bidder was interested to operate smaller flights, he said.
Terming this as unfortunate, Dhar, however, said that he is following up on the matter to find some way in which smaller flights operate from Baljek Airport.
Asked what has been the reason behind the inability of the government to make the airport functional till date, Dhar told Shira that the total area of the airport is not enough to operate ATR flights.
It may be mentioned that the government had acquired 50 acres of land in 2013, but it was not sufficient. According to Dhar, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had asked for more land.
“We are following up on the matter but it will take some more time as without another 60 acres of land, we cannot operate ATRs from there,” he said
It is learnt that the land acquisition proceedings for another 60 acres is ongoing, following which the AAI would be asked to send a detailed project report (DPR) on the infrastructural development of the airport.
On the other hand, TMC MLA from Nongthymmai, Charles Pyngrope also queried as to how much land is required to make the Baljek airport functional, to which the Transport minister informed the House that the present area of the airport is around 120 acres, and another 60 acres is required.
To another supplementary question on runway extension, Dhar said that the present length of the runway at the airport is 1,100 metre, which needs to be extended up to 1,750 metres for ATRs to land.


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