Sukhbir keeps promise with Mohali; Bathinda airport still a dream

  • Navrajdeep Singh, Hindustan Times, Bathinda
  • Updated: Sep 13, 2015 21:40 IST

Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal claimed to have kept his promise by starting an international airport in SAS Nagar (Mohali), but when the commissioning of the Bathinda domestic airport, Sukhbir's dream project, seems to have become a distant dream.

Even after its completion three years ago, the Bathinda civil airport, one of the much- hyped projects, has remained a non-starter, following reluctance of aviation companies to start domestic flights from here.

According to information, besides aviation companies, even the Union aviation ministry found the airport 'financially unviable', after carrying out surveys on different routes -Bathinda-Jammu and Bathinda-Bikaner.

Situated in the vicinity of Bathinda at Virk Kalan village, 20 km from here, even the airport building, on which the government spent a sum of `25 crore, turned into a white elephant.

The state government acquired 42 acres of land before handing over the project to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for its construction adjacent to the Bhisiana air force station.

However, though earlier the SAD-BJP government blamed the UPA government for creating hurdles in its commissioning, but now, the repeated meetings of Union minister for food processing industry and Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal with officials of the Union ministry in the past over one-and-a-half years, failed to yield any result.

The leaders even issued statements regarding the airport's inauguration, but nothing has happened so far.

It should be mentioned that setting up of the Bathinda airport was among one of the promises made by the Badal family during the elections over the years, but the failure of the project may bring embarrassment for them in future elections.

Pertinently, during her visit to Bathinda last year on March 26, Harsimrat even went to the extent of saying that "You talk about the airport but even the Bathinda-Delhi Shatabdi express is getting only 200-250 passengers".

People's Party of Punjab president Manpreet Singh Badal said the government has set its priorities wrongly as no one is interested to invest at Bathinda.

"The idea of setting up an airport in Bathinda was just like a family, who had no food to eat, but wished to purchase a television set," Manpreet said.

He added "For this, the government has to industrialise Bathinda, but, unfortunately, no one is interested to invest in the state due to corruption and other faulty policies."
Meanwhile, despite repeated attempts, she could not be contacted.

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