Can a pilot ever forget to connect with the local Air Traffic Control before landing or taking off? Something similar happened recently, thankfully not in the sky though: the Uttar Pradesh government, high on its plans to develop an international airport in Meerut — we can almost hear the property prices crashing in Greater Noida, the original place where the airport was to come up — forgot the basic requirement: a clearance from the lords of the Indian skies: the civil aviation ministry.
The aviation ministry worthies in New Delhi, meanwhile, are not amused at this oversight. How could they be? Here they are trying to ensure that the skies are abuzz with airlines and the new glass and steel airports dot the landscape and then suddenly you have a state hell-bent on auto-landing. So they rushed to check the Constitution for the meaning of ‘federal’ polity. Yes, it’s a federation all right but they are in charge, it said. Now which ministry would accept such a slip? So we were not surprised when an official said: “In this particular case, far from getting any clearance, they haven’t even applied for one.” Sigh, we can feel the pain. But putting the cart before the horse is so common here: infrastructure always comes up after new constructions are up and running or cities are cleaned up with great fanfare only after an international event has been announced.
How did all this happen? Now many will read political messages into this — the Lady in Pink is not exactly on good terms with the Queen in Delhi — but we think it’s not that. The UP administration was in a rush to get the clearance that does take considerable time: so it tried the smart way out: get everything in place, including a consultant, and then approach the ministry, hoping that this reverse sweep could result in a quick victory.