People associated with tourism industry in the district have been demanding expansion of Bhuntar airport for a long time as the condition of Chandigarh-Kullu-Manali highway is pathetic, which makes the journey of tourists miserable. People in the tourism sector believe that expansion of the airport may boost tourism in the district.
The project of expansion of Bhuntar airport is hanging fire for the past many years, where a survey was conducted by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, to prepare a detailed report for expanding the airport runway.
According to sources, the Beas river adjoining the airport is the biggest hurdle in expansion of the airport as it requires diversion of the river from the main stream.
Kullu-Manali Hoteliers' Association president Anup Thakur said, "We have been demanding expansion of the airport for the past many years as we are facing tough time due lack of proper infrastructure in the district."
He rued that the Chandigarh-Kullu-Manali national highway leading to the district and majority of roads within the district were in a bad shape and the district also lacks availability of rail network.
When contacted district tourism officer Ashwani Kumar, he said, the department was working on land acquisition issue with the revenue department to ascertain the actual position of the area for its expansion and within next 20 days, a detailed report would be prepared to address the issue.
According to Airport Authority of India station director at Bhuntar airport Sandeep Puri, at present, a 48-seater airplane of Air India Carrier regularly fly from Bhuntar airport to Delhi, except Tuesday. It can only carry 32 passengers from Delhi to Bhuntar airport and 18 passengers from Bhuntar to Delhi due to short runway at Bhuntar airport.
Tourism corporation chairman Vijay Singh Mankotia said he recently visited Delhi and raised the matter with the central ministry and now the matter was under consideration of the Airport Authority of India. "I will soon take up the matter of Bhuntar airport expansion with chairman of Airport Authority of India to ensure speedy progress over the project to benefit the people in the district,' he added.