The Chandigarh international airport may have started international operations, but its facilities remain piecemeal and incomplete as yet.
This fact hit home on Wednesday late evening when a chartered flight from the USA with six people on board was sent to Delhi after a four-hour wait with the airport not having the facility to digitally verify the visas of passengers. In technical parlance, the facility is called e-immigration check facility.
The plane was carrying a US delegation that was to participate in a programme at the Institute of Microbiology Technology, Chandigarh (IMTECH), Sector 39, on Thursday. Executive vice-president and chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson, USA, Dr Paul Stoffels, who was leading the group, was to deliver a lecture at IMTECH. The programme stood cancelled.
The flight, chartered from New Jersey in the USA, had landed at the airport at 6.45pm and left for Delhi at 10.35 pm.
Airport police post in-charge Harsimran Singh Bal confirmed the development and said, “After a wait of four hours, the delegation left for Delhi as the airport does not offer e-immigration service.”
Sanjeev Kumar, head of immigration, at the airport refused to comment and disconnected the phone.
IMTECH director Dr Anil Koul said, “One of the members of the delegation had an e-visa. But, the airport does not offer the e-immigration check facility. So, the group went back. Following this, we cancelled the lecture.”
Interestingly, even though two international flights were started from the airport in September last year, basic facilities at the airport are still in the works. The issue of e-immigration clearance is a major issue that could create such issues in the future too.
Other facilities that are missing at the airport are Wi-Fi (internet facilities), money exchange, additional ATMs and duty-free shops. Recently, the Punjab and Haryana HC has also questioned the workability and sustainability of the airport to host international flights.