Says no land being given for ILS, HC seeks response
SRINAGAR: The problem behind frequent cancellation of flights to Kashmir is state government’s failure to provide adequate land for installation of Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Srinagar airport, Airport Authority of India has said.
However, the state government has rejected the contention by blaming the AAI for not upgrading the existing approach lights which it said will help landing the flights at the airport which on paper has the international status.
Amid the blame game, a division bench of Justices Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Janak Raj Kotwal has directed the state government to respond to the AAI contention by next date of hearing of the suo-moto Public Interest Litigation.
Responding to the court’s directions on December 17 last year, Air Commodore, Air Force filed a compliance report, suggesting that the Air Force Authority of India has provided the navigational aids like ILS, DVOR and DME to the Srinagar Airport but the approach lighting system “which is an integral part of the ILS” has not been installed by the AAI.
“This is leading to the ILS not being exploited fully,” the Air Commodore said.
For the installation of the approach of lighting system by AAI, the court was informed that there was a requirement of land and present land of 300 meters with the Air Force Station Srinagar was inadequate for installing the approach lighting system which requires minimum of 900 meters.
The additional land required for installation of the approach lighting system has to be provided by the state government to AAI.
In its status report, the state government said that the matter has already been taken up with the Ministry of Defence, Government of India in which it has been highlighted that in order to address the problems being faced and for avoiding frequent cancellation of flights in absence of required infrastructure at Srinagar International Airport, the AAI needs to augment couple of existing facilities “to avoid such disruption in future”.
“At present RVR (Runway Visual Reader) is not installed at the airport and the visibility is being reported manually, however, with the help of RVR accuracy can be achieved,” the state said. The second requirement as per the state is that the present ILS installed by AAI is CAT-I but without approach lights.
“This system can be upgraded to CAT-II but CAT-II approach lights are required to be installed which will help landing if the visibility is 350 meters,” it said.
After reading the joint reports filed by the Air Commodore and the state, the high court said that there was only one conclusion that land is not being provided for installation of the approach lighting system. “There is requirement of Iand which is estimated at minimum 900 meters. State Government has to respond it,” the court said, and directed counsel representing both parties to exchange their reports with a direction for responding to these reports by next date of hearing in the PIL.
“One more important aspect is as to what facilities are being provided to the passengers who are suffering due to cancellation of Air flights. The Air fare rates are fluctuating beyond proportions to the disadvantage of poor and needy people, therefore, all the appearing counsel on this aspect shall assist the court on next date of hearing,” the court said and posted the PIL on April 17.