Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Forget liquor outlets – let us have more airports

The recent controversy about opening of a liquor shop at the Srinagar airport was laid to rest no sooner than it was initiated. An unnecessary thought- considering the sentiments involved and also for an airport that is named as international (in 2005) but is functional only during daytime and has no chance of starting night time/international flights. Well the initiative from Airport Authority of India (AAI) should have been for starting evening/night and restarting international flights rather than the outlet/s.
Kashmir has swelled in population with the hike from 3 million to the present 7 million (approximately) over last six decades. The life style and affordability of people has improved with more coming in the affluent bracket. More and more people now travel for recreational, business or religious purposes and air travel as a means of transport has increased by a huge margin. With private airlines reporting full bookings (bar the recent lackluster tourist season) the footfall to only airport of Kashmir has increased by leaps and bounds. Kashmiris, from all the districts, desiring to travel to any part of the country or outside have to come all the way to Srinagar airport to board a flight. This is the only public airport of the summer capital that was laid open in 1979. Before this the old Srinagar airport used to be the boarding place for civilians, which has now been taken over by the defense forces for use by the air force or the VVIP’s.
Kashmir needs more airports and least a second one and the best place to have one is at Anantnag. A brand new airport, which should be of international standards and for international flights. If Srinagar airport cannot be upgraded to international standards of operation let us have this new one built up to the international specifications. As far as finding the huge chunk of land for the same I feel the area uphill to the right of Mattan – the ‘Mattan Wuder’ near Ranbirpora- is a perfect place to have an airport. This huge expanse is laying at a height and is largely unkempt and has all the essentials of being converted into an airstrip. I may be technically wrong but there is no harm in exploring this area.
07/11/17 Dr Muzafar Maqsood Wani/Greater Kashmir