‘Air cargo facilities to boost agriculture and horticulture’
SRINAGAR: The Union Home Secretary, Ajay Kumar Bhalla on Wednesday chaired a high level meeting to review the implementation of various schemes in Civil Aviation, Agriculture and Horticulture sectors in the two Union territories of Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh.
J&K Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta, Advisor to LG Ladakh Umang Narula, Secretary Ministry of Civil Aviation, Pradip Singh and Joint Secretary Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare participated in the meeting.
During the meeting, detailed deliberations were held on the possibility of operationalizing commercial flights at night hours at the airports of Srinagar and Jammu by incorporating suitable facilities and arrangements.
The Chief Secretary apprised the Union Home Secretary that infrastructural and technical facilities exist at Srinagar Airport to operate flights up to 10 pm. However, during winter months visibility is greatly reduced causing interruptions to air connectivity.
The Secretary, Civil Aviation informed that to improve night-visibility at the Srinagar Airport, efforts are afoot to complete the lighting project at the earliest which would facilitate flights during low visibility round-the-year through concerted coordination with Indian Air Force. Similarly, the ongoing air-strip repair works at Jammu Airport will be completed this week followed by installation of lights by the month end to enable operation of night flights at Jammu Airport, he said.
It was further informed that the Ministry of Civil Aviation is planning to establish international air connectivity through the Srinagar Airport which currently operates international flights for Hajj pilgrimage only.
The Home Secretary also reviewed the status of high density horticulture plantations and its speedy transportation to wider markets.
It was informed that to facilitate the marketing of agricultural and farm products of the northeastern and Himalayan states/UTs, the ‘Krishi-Udan Scheme’ was recently launched. The scheme aims to benefit the local farmers by providing 50% freight subsidy for air transportation of the perishable products. This would enable shipment of perishable products from Jammu and Kashmir to other parts of the country.
Mehta said that in view of the national highway widening project being undertaken by NHIDCL, air transportation of perishables from the Union territory provides relief to the stakeholders associated with agriculture and allied activities. He assured augmentation of air cargo facilities through enhanced coordination between UT administration and Central Government to establish end-to-end linkages.
It was decided that a committee consisting of representatives from J&K Government, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, will be constituted to examine modifications in the existing scheme to cater to the needs of J&K.
Further, it was informed that the government has recently signed a MoU with Go airlines for subsidised air transportation of vegetables and fruits from Jammu and Kashmir, of which the first consignment of Srinagar’s cherry and Jammu’s lychee was dispatched to Dubai and Mumbai, respectively.
The meeting also discussed extension of these facilities and schemes to the Union territory of Ladakh.