Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Two years on, Patiala airstrip awaits extension

Patiala: It’s been over two years since the proposal to extend the Patiala civil air terminal was sent to the Union ministry of defence. However, the project is hanging fire and yet to get any green signal. After extension, the air terminal can accommodate flights of large passenger aircraft.
The length of the existing 3,800 feet airstrip will be increased to 7,000 feet for which around 70 acres land near the airstrip was proposed for the extension. The effort was initiated back in 2016, following which the administration measured the length and the space required for the extension of the airstrip.
The proposed 70 acres land, which was marked for the extension of the airstrip, falls within the boundary of the Army cantonment. The state government had sent three reminders about the proposal, but has failed to get any response from the Union government over the approval to acquire land.
Chief Flying Instructor Capt. Malkeat Singh, said, “The proposal for the extension of the airstrip was made and sent to the Union government for approval. But so far, we have got no response in this matter. We have sent several reminders to the ministry of defence (MoD). Without their approval, we cannot go ahead. The site marked for the extension of the airstrip also belongs to the MoD. The state government is keen to start the project as it would benefit the state as well as Patiala.”
As per norms, if the MoD approves the site for the extension, the state government can either purchase the required 70 acres from the Army or it can allow 70 acres of another land of civil air terminal to the Army cantonment. The air terminal can be used for passenger aircraft once the land is acquired.
Notably, the state directorate of civil aviation had then approached the ministry of defence to allow the Punjab government to increase the runway’s length to 7,000 feet at least.
At present, the airport is only being used to fly small aircraft, which are being operated by the flying clubs. The night flying continues to operate from here whereas around 25 students are getting training for the flights.
13/03/18 Bharat Khanna/Times of India