The Indian Air Force will vacate the airport in Leh and develop its base at an alternate site in Jammu and Kashmir’s strategically located district of Ladakh under an agreement intended to be finalised by this month end.
Similarly, the Army has agreed to vacate a large tract of land presently under its control in Kargil district, adjoining Leh, which will be used for the expansion of the town. Army will be given alternate land in lieu.
A meeting held by divisional commissioner (Kashmir) Asgar Hassan Samoon was told that IAF has agreed to vacate the Leh airport which will be handed over to the Airports Authority of India for expansion as part of efforts to encourage tourism in Ladakh region, an official spokesman said in Srinagar on Saturday.
The meeting, held on Friday, also attended by officials of IAF, Airports Authority of India and civil administration, was informed that the state government has identified land in lieu of the existing IAF airbase in Leh.
IAF officials, who attended the meeting, said the alternate site offered by the state government in Leh has been examined by experts and they are ready to take over if the state government finalises the deal.
The Divisional Commissioner was informed that the modalities are being worked out to shift the existing airbase in Leh to Airports Authority of India which will expand it for civilian purposes, the spokesman said.
Samoon said paperwork to finalise the deals should be done on priority so that it is transferred to the civil government by the end of February.
He also directed the Airports Authority to explore the possibility of starting night operations at Srinagar airport.