The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday gave the central government a time period of 10 days to respond to a petition seeking the start of operations of international flights from the Chandigarh international airport.
During the resumed hearing of the petition filed by the Mohali Industry Association (MIA), the high court bench comprising justice SK Mittal and justice HS Sidhu observed that over Rs 950 crore had been spent on the construction of the new terminal and allied works, and despite the fact that the new terminal was inaugurated in September, the international operations were yet to start.
The high court bench posted the matter for further hearing on January 27 and directed the central government operator, Chandigarh international airport Limited, and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to file their replies within 10 days.
During the hearing, the governments of Punjab and Haryana submitted their replies and told the high court that any decision to start operations of international flights was to be taken by the central government.
The Punjab government told the high court that the government made repeated efforts and even wrote to the defence ministry and the civil aviation ministry in this regard. The government also appended the letters written by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in March 2015, May 2015, August 2015, and December 2015, wherein he had taken up the matter with either the civil aviation or defence ministry.
One of the letters was also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2015. The government also stated that in April 2015, chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal took up various infrastructural issues with the civil aviation ministry.
The communication between the Punjab and central government reveals that Spicejet and Indigo were given permission by the ministry of defence to start international fights but they did not commence due to runway repair in mid- 2015.
The letter written by the CM also reveals that apart from the Rs 1000 crore spent on creating the infrastructure for the new terminal, the government had also spent around Rs 500 to develop the vicinity.
The new terminal was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September.
The petitioner had sought the high court’s intervention, stating that the non-operation of flights was causing huge losses, not only to the public exchequer, but to the passenger services and business, demanding to initiate an inquiry to find out whether an administrative action needed to be taken against the government officials responsible for non-operation of the international flights.