The two major airports operating in the state tell a different story altogether. One shows the involvement of the government in ensuring its expansion and the other reflects neglect and apathy.
In Jammu, the upgraded passenger terminal that was inaugurated two weeks back will provide more facilities to passengers besides giving modern look to the airport. The 90-crore project was actually started in 2014 and has been completed in time.
The Jammu airport is located at such a juncture that it is too close to Pakistan border and extraordinary care is to be taken by the pilots while taking off or landing at this airport. There is not much scope of its expansion owing to security reasons. However, despite this lacunae the MoS in PMO went to the length of suggesting a strip of land along the national highway for the contemplated international airport.
We are not suggesting that we should adopt two different standards or views with regard to the two different airports, but we are trying to emphasize that the government needs to take every region seriously and adopt a similar scale or parameter for the development of infrastructure in these regions.
Now we will take up the case of Srinagar airport which is not in a position to be called as an international airport owing to some drawbacks that have not been resolved over the past more than a decade.
It is more than a year since clearance was given for the start of night landing facility at Srinagar Airport, yet the facility remains uninstalled.
What we are being told is that the airport lacks additional 600 metres of land on which lighting facilities are to be installed for the start of the night landing facility. However, the land required is yet to be procured.
What is ironic is that the Srinagar airport occupies a small corner of the massive IAF airbase which controls the airport. The airport land has actually been leased out to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by the IAF.
The land houses the terminal building where passengers check-in and depart. The AAI also controls the apron area (where an aircraft is parked) while the airspace and runway control is with the IAF.
Importantly, the questions that are being raised over expansion of the airport and improving the facilities there are so minor in nature that these can be tackled with ease.
However, what prompts the authorities to raise their hands needs to be looked into. The state government gave the green signal for night flights at Srinagar airport from May 2016. Why that did not happen on schedule, needs to be answered.
Why issues like the lack of funnel guarding (required for flight operations during night), runway lighting according to international flight standards and approach lights for night landing are being put forward as reasons for the delay.
The duplicity and the dual approach has to go. And if the clamor for regional discrimination is to be mellowed down such lapses have to be checked at an earliest.