The civil aviation sector in Punjab appeared all set for a take off as the Centre is likely to allow use of Adampur Air Force station airport, 20 km from here for civilian flights while Ludhiana and Bathinda airports are being made fully operational within a month.
The Punjab government, in its bid to ensure better air connectivity particularly in Doaba region, has "formally" approached the Centre to allow civilian flights at Adampur station of the Indian Air Force and the response was encouraging, the deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal told Hindustan Times here on Thursday.
Sukhbir, who also holds civil aviation portfolio, said that the state government has recently submitted a formal proposal seeking establishment of a civilian terminal at Adampur station. "We are in touch with defence ministry to get clearance for the landing of civilian domestic and international flights as the project is contiguous to the Air Force station in Adampur for using its airstrip. I am sure to get the same in five months. The civilian flights will start from Adampur accordingly," Sukhbir said, adding that it for the first time that a formal proposal was submitted to the Centre in this regard.
This was a long pending demand of the non-resident Indians (NRIs) from Doaba region, a majority of them settled in USA, Canada, UK, Australia and Germany. Though the proposal on using Adampur airport was mooted on several occasions in the past, but the defence ministry kept on rejecting the same on "security" grounds.
"The work at Bathinda international airport has been completed. The flights will start within one month even as we are awaiting availability of the union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh to dedicate the same to the public," Sukhbir quipped, adding that the state government aimed to make available air-connectivity within a range of 60 to 70 km for the public.
Bathinda air linkage assumes significance in setting up of Guru Gobind Singh Bathinda Refinery and a world-class cricket stadium. Efforts are being made to get a civilian terminal in the NRI heartland at Adampur in Doaba region. This comes in the wake of the state's initiatives for Punjabi NRIs particularly after the latter has been extended the right to vote in nation's electoral politics.
On start of regular flights from Ludhiana airport, Sukhbir said that work on installation of instrument landing system (ILS) was near completion, leading to a safe landing during instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), such as low ceilings or reduced visibility due to fog, rain, or blowing snow. "The authorities concerned have planned to inspect the ILS in 10 days while regular flights will be made operational from Ludhiana within a month," Sukhbir said, adding that the industrial city would get complete air-connectivity.
He said that the state government has given go-ahead to extend runway at Ludhiana airport in the next phase of expansion while the requisite land would soon be acquired for the purpose. "The expansion project is estimated to be completed in a year. The runway extension will allow 24 hours flights' landing and take offs. This will encourage renowned air-careers to start more flights from Ludhiana," he added.