Monday, April 22, 2024
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HC judges, officials to inspect airports in Ladakh, Bhutan and Andaman

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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, March 22: The sitting Judges of the High Court of Meghalaya will visit the Leh Airport in Ladakh, the Port Blair Airport in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Paro International in Bhutan to inspect such airports in order to get first-hand information with regard to the physical and technical specifications of such airports that can be replicated in Shillong Airport to the extent feasible. Concerned officials of the state and central authorities will accompany the Judges.
Additional Advocate General K Khan submitted before the court on Thursday that the state is willing to bear the expenses as they are interested in having a bigger airport so that the area would be developed and every citizen of this country are attracted to come and visit Meghalaya.
“We expect that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) shall arrange proper facilities for smooth visitation and inspection of the airports at the three places, namely, Leh, Bhutan, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands and also expect that the AAI should take necessary consent from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, New Delhi to take up the matter with the Bhutan government so that we can inspect the Paro International Airport,” the order issued by Chief Justice S. Vaidyanathan and Justice Wanlura Diengdoh said, adding that the court has got a right to inspect various aerodromes to bring betterment to this Airport at Shillong for landing of bigger aircraft.
The court also noted that Chief Justice Vaidyanathan and Justice Diengdoh inspected the Shillong airport runway at Umroi on March 13 and got the information that the bay has been increased to four, a new air traffic control room has been constructed, and at present, IndiGo, SpiceJet and Alliance Air are operating their ATR aircraft with 72-80 passengers.,
The measurement of the existing runway is 1829 m and the length of runway should be widened to 2210 m so as to operate flights like Airbus 321 etc., which can carry around 220 passengers.
The Court said that on physical inspection it appears that the runway is suitable for flights to land and take-off with the capacity of 160-180 passengers, but no flight is operational as on date with such carrying capacity.
It said that flights are being operated to various cities/states/metros like Delhi, Kolkata, Imphal, Agartala, Lilabari, Aizawl, Dimapur, Guwahati, Silchar, and Dibrugarh. SpiceJet with 96 passengers operates a flight from Shillong to Delhi.
The court said AAI has proposed to conduct LiDAR survey to find out the possibility of expanding the aerodrome so as to operate airbus with more number of passengers to various other cities for which tender is at the stage of financial evaluation and is yet to be materialised.
Officials, namely, KL Nongbri, Joint Secretary of the Transport Department, Chief Engineer of PWD (R) and other PWD officials, Shailesh Kumar Rathore, General Manager of AAI and other technical officers of AAI, Amicus Curiae P. Yobin and N. Mozika, DSGI, who were present at the time of inspection, took the judges to the south west side of the airport, where they noticed a mountain (cluster) at a far off place, which, according to the officials, stand in the way of expansion of the airport and huge amount is required for removal of the cluster.
Officials informed the judges that in case of difficulty after landing, the flight should be able to take-off and that there should be a provision for the pilots to take-off flights immediately, for which, sufficient distance without any cluster should be provided.
The order said that Bhopal is the capital of Madhya Pradesh which is the centre of India. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to the city of lakes from Shillong.
“For example, almost every week sitting judges and judicial officers are going to Bhopal where the National Judicial Academy is situated and conferences are held on Saturdays and Sundays. Since there is no direct flight to Bhopal, judges and other officials are forced to reach Bhopal via Delhi from Guwahati, which consumes more time, lots of fuel consumption and money wastage,” the court said.
The court asked the AAI to ensure at least hopping flights on Fridays and Sundays to Bhopal from major cities/states/metros like Chennai, Kerala, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong and the like.
The judges said that the authority must consider that in future, at least, there should be a weekly flight on Friday and Sunday to Bhopal from Shillong directly or hopping flights may be introduced, which can fly upto Bhopal or fly via Bhopal.
“Every citizen of this country must visit the ‘city of lakes’ to know how the waterbody is protected,” the order said.
“When small aircraft carrying 96 passengers are able to fly upto Delhi from Shillong, there cannot be any hurdle for introduction of flights from various metros via Bhopal. Since Shillong is a tourist place, more small aircraft are required from various places to Shillong to develop tourism,” the court added.

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