SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday gave the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI), along with DC Budgam, two weeks to take a technical survey of 600 metres of land acquired for Runway 31 (Budgam) at Srinagar airport, a military-cum-civil airfield.
A division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey pointed out
in its order said that of 900 metres of land available for Runway 31 towards Budgam, only 300 metres were plane while 600 metres were in slope. There is therefore a need for the IAF, the AAI and the DC Budgam to conduct a technical survey to ascertain whether the land is feasible for use or not. If it is feasible, then DC Budgam must take steps for acquiring it, and if not, then alternative measures must be initiated.
The court also directed the authorities to outline steps taken for installing a lighting system and upgrading the Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Runaway 31 towards Budgam and Runway 13 towards Chadoora.
The court observed that at present Srinagar Airport has an ILS facility at Runway 31 towards Budgam, but no lighting system. The minimum visibility is 1,300 metres, but once a lighting system is installed, the figure will come down to 800 metres. This will ensure a reduction in flight cancellations, and therefore the public would be at greater ease and airlines would incur less loss, the court remarked.
The court also observed that with respect to Runway 13 towards Chadoora, the IAF and the AAI are directed to submit a report with respect to the installation of an ILS on the next date of hearing.
On a previous hearing, Additional Advocate General BA Dar, representing the state’s chief secretary, had informed the court that non-availability of the ILS was the prime reason behind the frequent cancellations of flights to and from Kashmir last winter.
“In 15 days of bad weather during the month of January this year, 200 flights were cancelled in absence of the ILS. Today, BA Dar again informed court that acquisition of 900 metres of land is in the process, but Indian Airport Authority and Indian Air Force has not provided detailed project report before the court,” Dar had said
In its response, the court directed a detailed report of the same be provided on the next hearing.
The petition was initiated by Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, and on December 14 2016, the Chief Justice directed its registration as a suo-motu PIL. In this PIL, the judge noticed that the AAI has prima facie failed to take note of the hardships and difficulties regularly faced by people who travel to and from Kashmir by air.
The judge also noted that the authorities have prima facie failed to take appropriate remedial measures by upgrading the lighting system and installing the gadgets required at the Srinagar airport and, consequently, have failed to discharge public duty.