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Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway unlikely to have airstrip for emergency landings, say officials

A Maharashtra firm had planned to construct three airstrips along the 706-km expressway for warplanes of the Indian Air Force to land

mumbai Updated: Jul 22, 2017 10:50 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times
Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway,MSRDC,Emergency airstrips
The proposed eight-lane access controlled expressway will connect Mumbai and Nagpur.(HT File Photo)

The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is likely to drop its plan to build airstrips along the proposed Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, terming the plan “infeasible”.

The nodal agency for the Rs46,000-crore project had planned to construct three airstrips along the 706-km expressway for warplanes of the Indian Air Force to land.

It is currently discussing the matter with aviation experts and a final report is awaited.

“Our preliminary engineering plan reveals that we do not have a 5-km straight stretch,which is the basic requirement for an airstrip. Moreover, there are airports in most of the 10 districts the expressway passes through and so it is unlikely that we will need emergency airstrips,” said a senior official, who did not wish to be identified.

“An airstrip does not seem feasible, but we are examining the possibility in consultation with aviation authorities,” said Anilkumar B Gaikwad, chief engineer, MSRDC.

In May 2015, the IAF successfully landed a Mirage-2000 on the Yamuna Expressway near Mathura as part of a trial to use national highways as emergency landing sites for fighter aircraft.

Emergency airstrips are essential in case key airfields are crippled during hostile situations or during natural disasters.

Countries known to have emergency airstrips on highways include China, Germany, Sweden, Pakistan, and Singapore.The ministry of road transport and highway identified 17 highways that could be constructed in border states such as Rajasthan, Punjab, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya to double up as airstrips.

“Maharashtra is far from any international border, so such airstrips may not be necessary here. Requirements such as a makeshift air traffic control and bird clearance mechanism must be taken into account before one can land a fighter jet on a road,” a senior bureaucrat added.

The proposed eight-lane access controlled expressway will connect Mumbai and Nagpur. It is expected to cut the travel time between the two cities drastically.

First Published: Jul 22, 2017 10:50 IST