Efforts by Harsimrat notwithstanding,civil airport still awaits inauguration

  • Ketan Gupta, Hindustan Times, Bathinda
  • Updated: Oct 05, 2014 23:05 IST

Efforts by union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal to make the civil airport here functional have not yet borne fruit and still there is no hope of its becoming functional in the near future.

After the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government came into power at the Centre and Harsimrat Kaur took oath as a union minister, she met the union aviation minister to start flights from the airport. Immediately after her meeting with the minister, an Air India team came here to assess the situation, but the team has not responded and filed any report.

The airport, built at a cost of `25 crore on the outskirts of the city, is spread over 40 acres and is still waiting for its inauguration.

The airport's apron area can accommodate two Boeing 321 (150 seater) aeroplanes and can be extended also for more air traffic. The current terminal has been built over an area of 1,500 sq meters.

An Air India team surveyed the airport to check the runway and other facilities essential for any airport. However, there has been no further communication after four months.

Similarly, last year in March, a private airline Spice Jet forwarded their proposal to start thrice-a-week flight. But, after that they also didn't turn up with any response.

In December last, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had offered reduction of VAT on fuel from 21% to 5% to lure aviation companies to refuel from this airport.

The HT team tried to talk to various officials, but they declined to give any comment on the start of the airport.

Sources in the office of the airport director, Punjab, Airports Authority of India refused to say anything on the issue. Even Vishavjeet Khanna, administrative secretary, civil aviation and Gagandip Singh Brar, director of th ecivil aviation, didn't attend call made for the last 7 days. Their assistants responded by saying they were busy and could not be contacted for comment.

Upadhyay, the officer-in charge of the airport said, "We want the airport to be functional as soon as possible. We fail to understand the dealy."

The non-functioning airport has become a target of thieves. There are various reports of things being stolen by thieves. In March 2013, a gang of thieves broke into the premises of the airport and decamped with five computers from the administrative office. The thieves also took along parts of air-conditioners and some machinery installed there.

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