Wednesday, August 23, 2017

First international airport in 1991, 4th on way, Kerala has no use for aviation department

Kochi: Strange as it may sound, Kerala, with a massive expatriate population, has never deemed it necessary to have its own civil aviation department, despite the ever-swelling number of people who prefer flight as the chosen mode of transport, both domestic and international.  To put things in perspective, the number of states that have their own aviation department now stands at 14, many of them with much lower air traffic volume.  Curiously, even though there is no state aviation department, Kerala has an IAS officer as its aviation secretary, which is an additional charge he holds. Presently, files related to airport projects are handled at ‘D’ Section under the state transport department.

‘’A request has been submitted to the government for the constitution of an expert cell to take care of aviation-related projects and to coordinate between state and central governments. The matter is pending before the Chief Minister. A decision is pending,’’ K R Jyothilal, Secretary, Personnel and Administrative Reforms, who holds the additional charge of State Aviation Secretary, told Express. Clearly, a dedicated department to give wings to its aviation aspirations seems a distant cry.

“There is no denying the difficulty faced by the state in implementing aviation projects in the absence of a dedicated department. High-level coordination between the state and central government is required, not only for new airport projects but even for the maintenance and development of the existing ones. This is especially true in the case of various clearances that require close coordination with a number of central ministries,” said aviation analyst Jacob Philip.
23/08/17 Babu K Peter/New Indian Express