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Vacant 400 airstrips have become cattle grazing grounds: Civil aviation secretary in Gurgaon

Rajiv Nayan Choubey, secretary, civil aviation said,India’s security infrastructure was way better than that of most developed nations

gurgaon Updated: Jul 07, 2017 22:55 IST
Yashaswani Sehrawat
Yashaswani Sehrawat
hindustan times
airstrips,civil aviation,NSG campus
Union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy was the chief guest on the concluding day of 1st International Aviation Security Seminar held by National Security Guard at Manesar in Gurgaon on Thursday.(HT PHOTO)

There are as many as 400 airstrips which are lying vacant with the cattle grazing the ground, Rajiv Nayan Choubey, secretary, civil aviation said on Thursday.

Speaking at the 1st International Aviation Security Seminar organised at the NSG campus in Manesar, Choubey said: “these airstrips were built during the World War 2, and most of them were located in small cities.”

“Instead of securing these small airstrips 24/7, only the flight should be secured. That way not only would the security be kept in mind, but the economic growth would also come in the loop,” he said, adding: “only two or three flights land each day on these airstrips.”

“For securing the 30-40 people in these flights, should I be deploying 70-80 security personnel in the airstrip throughout the day?” Choubey asked.

He said it was interesting how these airstrips work. Only small flights go to these airstrips and they take almost double the amount from the customers. “What we need right now is viability cap funding where a cap of, for instance, Rs 2,500 is put. The airlines can’t charge more than that from the customers and the subsidy will be provided by us,” Choubey told the Hindustan Times.

This was one of the challenges presently faced by the country’s aviation ministry, he said. Other challenges included combing security aspect with economic growth.

“The need of the hour is finding a balance between economic growth and security and that’s where NSG comes into play. It has a veto which it can use when decisions are taken,” the civil aviation secretary said.

Another challenge, Choubey mentioned, was in-flight wifi which India has still not enabled.

“India and North Korea are probably the only two significant nations presently which still don’t allow in-flight wifi facility -- the reason being security,” he said.

The secretary said they were working to bring technology to play a key role in helping the security.

He also talked about the need for bomb-proof runways and how they were working to build underground runways, wherever possible.

“It all eventually comes down to costs. If runways are over the ground, roads need to be diverted- for which land acquisition is required. Underground runways are very costly,” he said.

Read I Aviation companies, defence firms, govt set to tango at Aero India 2017 show

Choubey said that India’s security infrastructure was way better than that of most developed nations.

The 2-day seminar, which concluded on Thursday saw atleast 300 representatives from various stakeholders in security and aviation department-- bureau of civil aviation security of India (BCS), central industrial security force, national security guard, airport authority of India and other central and state agencies.

“This was a first of its kind seminar in India. The aim was to get all the stakeholders under one roof and discuss the challenges faced the country presently in terms of security and costs. And thus, find solutions,” NSG PRO, Group Commander, Rakesh Kumar told HT.

The seminar was followed by unfurling of the country’s 26th highest monumental flag in the campus in the presence of union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, former MP Naveen Jindal, along with hundreds of NSG officers and their families.

First Published: Jul 07, 2017 22:54 IST