Airport in Maoist hotbed handed over to army | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Airport in Maoist hotbed handed over to army

delhi Updated: Jul 31, 2010 00:45 IST
Tushar Srivastava

Located in a Maoist hotbed, the Bilaspur airport in Chhattisgarh will be handed over to the army.

First reported in Hindustan Times on July 2, (Army wants Bilaspur airport) the AAI (Airports Authority of India) board cleared the Ministry of Defence (MoD) proposal last week.

The decision comes at a time there is strong possibility of the army being called upon to tackle the Naxal menace.

The AAI-managed airport, which could be at the centre of army's anti-Naxal operations — if and when it is asked to take charge — is not handling any commercial operations.

With a runway that is 5,035 feet (1,535 metres) long, it is suitable for operation of small, 20-seater aircraft like Dornier-228 class. At present, the civilian airports in Raipur and Jagdalpur are used by the armed forces whenever the need arises.

"The airport would be leased out to the army for a period of 30 years," a senior AAI official who did not wish to be identified told Hindustan Times.

"The lease can be extended by another 30 years. AAI would be allowed to manage the domestic commercial operations at the airport if required."

AAI manages a total of 125 Airports, which include 11 international airports, eight customs airports, 81 domestic airports and 25 civil enclaves at defence airfields.

It provides air traffic management services over the entire Indian air space and adjoining oceanic areas with ground installations at all airports and 25 other locations to ensure safety of operations.