Airport ‘mock drill’ draws flak
DGCA Says No Approval Sought
Srinagar, May 27: The Saturday’s ‘mock anti-hijacking drill’ at the Srinagar International Airport has drawn flak from stakeholders in the tourism industry in Kashmir.
According to sources, a number of tourism players—including hoteliers, business houses and other allied sector—are contemplating to raise the issue with the J&K Government on the ground that “such an exercise could badly hit the blooming tourism season in Kashmir.”
“We are in the process of taking up the issue with the J&K Government,” said a group of hoteliers, wishing not to be identified. “We would seek the intervention of the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the mock drill issue. It is a serious matter. The Air Force should not have conducted the exercise at this point in time in view of the tourism season in Kashmir. Such an exercise can give a severe jolt to the tourism in Kashmir.”
Sources said some tourism-related associations have already received phone calls from tourists from outside the Valley on “whether everything is normal at the Srinagar Airport.”
“We had a booking of tourists from Middle East who rang us up and confirmed if everything was okay at the Srinagar Airport. They had read about the hijack scare which the mock drill triggered at the Srinagar Airport,” they said.
Pertinently, the mock drill was conducted on Saturday with the involvement of scores of force personnel and aircraft. The drill triggered panic at the Srinagar Airport, with flyers—both incoming and outgoing—feeling ‘scared’ over the exercise.
According to commercial airlines operating to and fro Srinagar Airport, the exercise could have been conducted later this year. “Though we realize that it is a mandatory exercise to be conducted once in a year, this is not the proper time to do it. It can send out a wrong signal to tourists, who want to visit Kashmir after three years of disturbance in the Valley. Such exercises can be held at appropriate time,” said manager of a commercial airline, insisting not to be named.
While none of the IAF officials commented on the issue, the Director, Airports Authority of India (Srinagar Airport) said “the mock drill is a mandatory exercise which has to be conducted once in a year.”
“We (AAI) and airlines were taken on board on the issue,” he said.
However, it is alleged that the IAF had not taken the Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) into confidence—something which has raised eyebrows.
“We have no knowledge about such exercise. It’s not proper on their part to hold it without our approval,” said an official in DGCA.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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