While the expansion of three airports in the state has been lying in limbo, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has sought resurvey of Kullu airport in tourist town of Kullu.
It was in 2010 that the state civil aviation department engaged experts from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, for preparing a detailed feasibility report for expanding the runway of the Kullu airport. The feasibility report prepared by the Roorkee engineers concluded that there was a need to expand the airport by another 1,000 metres.
The existing length of the Kullu airport is about 1,100 metres, while its breadth is only 30 metres which can only facilitate the landing of the 16 and 18-seater ATR planes. The engineers from Roorkee felt that there was a need to expand the breadth of the airport by another 20 meters which will enable the landing of 48 and 72-seater planes.
As per the feasibility report, Rs. 248 crore was required in total. But, now with over two years have lapsed, the state civil aviation department says that the expansion cost of the airport has escalated to Rs. 3,450 crore since there was a need to acquire 27 acres of land on the left side of Beas river. The land acquisition will affect two villages, while the residents have already expressed their reluctance. As many as 30 families of two revenue villages are likely to be affected.
In view of the construction of a proposed 32-km-long tunnel by National Hydro Power Corporation's Parvati project near the runway, the AAI had asked state government to re-conduct the survey. But what is coming in the government's way to conduct the survey is hefty fee demanded by the consultant. "The consultants are demanding Rs. 40 lakh as fee for re-surveying the airport in Kullu," director, civil aviation and tourism, Arun Sharma told Hindustan Times.
The government will take up Kullu airport's expansion with the civil aviation department when Himachal chief secretary Sudripta Roy meets the secretary, civil aviation, in New Delhi on December 13.
Apart from Kullu airport, expansion of Kangra airport is likely to figure in the meeting. To extend the Kangra airport near Dharamsala, the AAI requires 26 acres of additional land. "There are other issues related to the airports in Himachal. We have been repeatedly urging for providing night-landing facilities in all the three airports," said an official of the civil aviation department.
The construction of Greenfield Airport in Nadaun will also come up during the meeting. The state government has selected the site in Nadaun but it's yet to receive the meteorological report on it.