Demand for night landing at Srinagar Airport gains momentum
Soz Raises Issue In Rajya Sabha; TAAK, JKTA Tell Rangarajan
Srinagar, Mar 9: With the Instrumentation Landing System in place at the Srinagar International Airport, the clamour for the night landing facility at the aerodrome is gaining momentum with each passing day.
While the Valley-based stakeholders have been pitching for the facility for the past many months now, the state Congress chief and MP, Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz Wednesday sought the intervention of the Central Civil Aviation Ministry in the issue. “Now that ILS has been put in place, I think the Civil Aviation Ministry must start the night landing facility at the Srinagar airport,” Soz, who also raised the issue in Rajya Sabha today, told Greater Kashmir.
He said: “The Airport at Srinagar has all the facilities available, and, therefore, flights can be operated in the evening also. The calibration of ILS at the Srinagar airport recently has resolved the problems relating to low visibility. I have been asking the Ministry of Civil Aviation, for a long time, to start operation of Air India flights in the evening also. It is then that other airlines will follow. This facility will bring lot of relief to passengers, particularly, to trading community and visitors to the Valley. The Minister of Civil Aviation should accede to my demand at the earliest.”
‘CM SHOULD TAKE UP WITH NEW DELHI’
Sources in the Airports Authority of India headquarters at New Delhi believe that the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah should take up the issue with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD). “There are some quarters which need to be approached for this. In the first place, the Chief Minister should convene a meeting of the stakeholders at the local level and then take up the issue with the MOD and MCA,” they said.
It has been reliably learnt that the Srinagar-based AAI officials have already taken up the issue with the Civil Aviation Department. “The state has to get serious about the issue, given the benefits that the facility has. It is a long pending demand of the stakeholders who have been pleading that it would give fillip to the tourism sector and ensure more job avenues for the youth in Jammu and Kashmir,” the sources said.
This time around, flights at the Srinagar airport are able to land or take off only during the daytime, between 9 AM to 4.30 PM.
This is impeding the commercial airlines to operate night flights for the aspiring flyers to and from Srinagar.
Sources said the AAI has already made it clear in various quarters that it was ready to handle such a facility. But since the runway operations are handled by the Indian Air Force, the Defence Ministry has to take the final call.
‘CAN HELP IMPOSE FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE’
Amid debate on financial indiscipline in Jammu and Kashmir, the demand for night landing facility is also gaining momentum in the wake of an assertion that it can help reduce burden on the state exchequer.
According to official sources, the cash-starved Jammu and Kashmir can save lakhs of rupees every year if the night landing facility is put in place. “The facility would not only be a great thing for flyers in general, but it can help the state impose financial discipline as well. There many government officers who visit to and from New Delhi or Mumbai every day. The state has to pay for their accommodation charges of the officers who put up in hotels. But once you have the night landing facility in place, it would be easy for them to return back by evening or during night. This would naturally save the accommodation charges,” said an official in the Finance Department, insisting not to be named.
He said the night landing facility would also benefit government officials. “An official who visits Delhi for a meeting stays there for a night because of the absence of night landing facility at the Srinagar or Jammu airports. This could easily be avoided if the facility is put in place. And it could reduce burden on Kashmir Guest House as well and also save the expenditure there.”
The money, the sources believe, could be diverted to other areas of vital importance. “This amount can be utilized in other sectors like development of infrastructure or health or education sectors. So the night landing facility would greatly benefit the government officials and reduce the burden on the state exchequer,” they said.
An airport official said the airlines do feel the need of operating more commercial flights from Jammu and Delhi to Srinagar and vice versa, particularly in summers when they experience a heavy rush of flyers to the Valley. “Sometimes we have to run two flights a day in summer,” said an airline official. “We have been asking for the night landing facility for long. It would be great if the state takes up with New Delhi and ensures that flights are allowed to land during evenings and night.”
The stakeholders believe that the Government of India must ensure that a flight or two operate during night from the aerodrome. “This would certainly give huge fillip to the tourism industry in Jammu and Kashmir,” reiterated chairman of the J&K Tourism Alliance, G M Dug.
He said: “We badly need such a facility. The people associated with corporate business normally like to go on a holiday during weekends. They catch a flight on Friday or Saturday evening and return to their places of work by Monday morning.”
The Travel Agents Association of Kashmir has been pitching for the night landing facility on the grounds that it could boost tourism sector to a great extent and help tackle the problem of unemployment. “It will certainly help in creation of more jobs for the unemployed youth of the state. When the tourism sector will grow, it would naturally mean employment to more youth,” said the TAAK president, Rouf Tramboo.
The Prime Minister appointed Rangarajan Commission on employment in Jammu and Kashmir is aware of the issue. Both the TAAK and JKTA have raised the issue with him some months back. Even the Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industries has been pleading the case.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 10 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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