Upbeat over improvement in security situation in Kashmir, chief minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday urged the Prime Minister to hand over the control of Srinagar International Airport to the civil authorities.
Abdullah revealed that in his recent meetings with Union leadership including the Prime Minister and the home minister, he underlined the need of reducing the security checks at Srinagar airport which were imposed at the time when militancy was in peak.
"Situation is now reverse demanding re-looking of the aspect to make travel of people of the state and the visitors hassle free," he said in an interaction with civil society on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar's International Convocation Complex.
Abdullah wanted that the 'cumbersome' searching and burdensome security checking need to be eased in changed circumstances now.
"I have talked with Union leadership about the need of giving total control of Srinagar civil airport to Civil Aviation Authority relieving Air Force from the job. This would further help to restore the civil status of Srinagar airport," he said.
The airport is under the joint control of Civil Aviation and India Air Force often causing friction between the two owing to the contrasting needs of the two. The airstrip of the airport is strictly under the control of Air Force which determines the flight timings and schedules much to the inconvenience of aviation authorities.
On an average around 2,000 passengers travel in and out of Srinagar daily in normal circumstances but strangely no international flight is operational at present.
Abdullah maintained that he would continue to advocate and work for this proposal. However, the chief minister expressed satisfaction over the enhancement of flying schedule which begins at 7 in the morning and ends at 5.30pm. He said this has helped the visitors and air passengers a lot.
Abdullah hit at the government of Pakistan for its 'denial' to allow flights from Srinagar over their air space to foreign countries.
"This is strange that our neighbour is allowing flights from any state of India over their air space except Jammu and Kashmir. We hope the better relations between the two countries will help to remove this bottleneck so that people in Jammu and Kashmir will benefit equally," he said.
On tourism, Omar said that this sector is of significant economic importance for the state.
"While we are concentrating on opening new destinations for tourists, equal thrust is on the development of adventure, sports and pilgrim tourism.
Kashmir witnessed a record inflow of 1.3 million tourists in year 2011, hence raising hopes that the number will cross 2 million this year. Eighty percent of the tourists visiting valley travel by air.