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Centre seeks more land from Bihar for Patna’s Bihta airport to cut fog delays in winter

Installing category-II ILS at Bihta airport will allow operation of flights even when visibility is as low as 350 metres. The present airport in Patna requires a minimum visibility of 1,200 metres for flight operations.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2017 19:24 IST
Patna airport,ILS at Patna airport,Category II ILS
The Bihta airport will function in tandem with the existing Jay Prakash Narayan International airport (pic) in the heart of Patna. (File photo)

The ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) has written to Bihar, seeking 156 acres of land to install category II instrument landing system (ILS) at the Bihta air base of the Indian Air Force.

Aiming to improve and develop airport infrastructure to meet growing traffic demands, the Centre has decided to develop the Bihta air base, on the outskirts of Patna, simultaneously with the existing Jay Prakash Narayan International (JPNI) airport in the state capital for commercial operations by end of 2019.

The category II ILS will allow operation of flights from Bihta even when visibility is as low as 350 metres. At present, the JPNI airport has category I ILS, which mandates a minimum visibility of 1,200 metres for flights to operate. This often leads to fog delay of flights in winter, when visibility is low.

The Centre’s request for 156-acre land to install the ILS lights is in addition to 108 acres, which the state government is committed to give for developing civil enclave at the Bihta airport.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had on November 15, 2016 approved acquisition of 126.41 acre land for the Bihta airport project, where 108 acres were to be handed over to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) free of cost. While the Centre would invest Rs 1,350 crore on the development of Bihta airport, the state government would spend Rs 260 crore on land acquisition at Bihta.

Union civil aviation secretary RN Choubey made the request for additional land to Bihar chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh on August 30.

The Centre has been proactively pursuing with the Bihar government on development of the two airports in Patna since last year. Bihar was, however, yet to act on Choubey’s recent letter.

The chief secretary told Hindustan Times, “We have already committed to give land for the civil enclave at Bihta for which land acquisition is being done. He (Choubey) may have sent me a request (for additional land), but I am not aware of it. Please talk to the principal secretary, cabinet coordination department about it.”

Principal secretary cabinet coordination, Brijesh Mehrotra, told HT: “We received the letter about a week back, but are yet to take the government’s considered view on it. I will soon discuss it with the chief secretary.”

Mehrotra further said, “We need to ascertain facts where exactly is this chunk of land required. We will then ask the Patna district magistrate if it is feasible for acquisition, after ascertaining the classification of land (barren, agriculture, homestead, etc.) and habitation on it.”

The Bihta airport will function in tandem with the existing JPNI airport in the heart of the capital, making Patna the only city in India to have two operational airports within a distance of 30 km.

First Published: Sep 27, 2017 10:25 IST