Thursday, August 26, 2021

Airport at Pantnagar University: Uttarakhand high court asks aviation secy to appear

Nainital: The Uttarakhand high court on Wednesday directed the Union civil aviation secretary to appear before it after the Centre failed to reply to the court’s notice that sought its response on a plea challenging a proposed airport at GB Pant University of Agriculture & Technology.

In November last year, the government had acquired 1,072 acres of land belonging to the varsity for expansion of the Pantnagar Airport. Soon after, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by a US Nagar resident, Keshav Kumar Passi, arguing that the proposed airport would end up splitting the university campus into two.

The petition argued that the districts of Nainital and US Nagar have over 76,000 acres of barren land which could be used for airport expansion but the government had chosen land belonging to the university which is a “hotbed of agriculture research”.

On Wednesday, the division bench of Chief Justice R S Chauhan and justice Alok Kumar Verma was informed that the state has furnished its response, but the Centre was yet to file its affidavit. This was despite the case being listed for hearing half a dozen times.

In the last hearing on July 28, the Centre’s standing counsel had told the court that he has no instructions from the government on the matter. The court had then asked its registry to inform the Centre about the fact that the counsel had pleaded “no instructions” and gave four weeks to “engage the services of any other counsel of its choice”.

The division bench has now asked the civil aviation secretary to be physically present in court during the next hearing on September 15.

26/08/21 Prashant Jha/Times of India

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