With an eye on tapping tourism and also to improve air connectivity for VIPs within the state, the state government has decided to develop 21 airfields under its jurisdiction. Prior to bifurcation, there were 34 airfields under the state government’s domain.
Though no navigational or meteorological support is available at any of these 21 airfields, the government has agreed in principle to convert all airfields having kutcha runway into metalled ones and also construct boundary wall and rest rooms, apart from refurbishing the existing infrastructure at aerodromes under it. The development of ‘smaller aerodromes’ would be done in a phase-wise manner over the next four years.
Confirming this, Secretary-cum-Director Civil Aviation Department Capt Vinay Karmsheel told Hindustan Times, “At many locations we have kutcha airstrips. They become inoperational during rainy season. The government has agreed in principle to develop all these airstrips.”
Capt Karmsheel said the Building Construction Department had been entrusted the job of developing these airfields. Among the airfields having kutcha runways are Rohtas, Bhabua, Munger, Bettiah and Begusarai. Nine other airfields in Jehanabad, Biharsharif, Jamui, Samastipur, Sitamarhi, Motihari, Ara, Buxar and Katihar, not only have kutcha runway but have also been classified as ‘abandoned airports’.
As for those few airfields under the state government having metalled runways are Bhagalpur, Birpur, Chapra, Madhubani and Saharsa. The better ones — Patna and Gaya are civilian aerodromes under the Airports Authority of India, while the Indian Air Force controls the air and ground space at Bihta, Darbhanga and Purnia.
Capt Karmsheel further said the government was also open to acquiring land for runway expansion at some locations, including Bhagalpur, where it was toying with the idea of commencing commercial service of 42 smaller aircraft.