Expressing grave concern over the extremely hazardous situation prevailing in the Jammu Airport threatening the very lives and safety of passengers and aircrafts, Harsh Dev Singh Chairman JKNPP and former Minister lambasted the State govt. for failing to address the most serious issue despite repeated statements and assurances on the subject. He said that the govt. has not only neglected long pending extension of the existing runway at the Jammu Airport from 6700 feet to 8000 feet as repeated warned by Aviation experts but also displayed criminal negligence in ensuring proper maintenance of the Airport thus putting the very lives of passengers to jeopardy. Expressing serious concern over the reports of the Air force officers regarding the failure of the govt. to undertake de-silting and repair of the broken, clogged and chocked nallahs at Jammu Airport which had threatened the lives of the passengers, Mr. Singh strongly condemned the govt. functionaries for their inaction and culpable neglect in dealing with the critical situation that could lead to a catastrophe.
Inviting the attention of the concerned authorities towards the complaint of Air officer commanding (AOC) Jammu who has expressed apprehensions of a serious threat to the safety of aircrafts and passengers in view of shabby plight of Airport, Singh said that mere invocation of Sec 133 CrPc by District Magistrate would not suffice and rather immediate action on war footing for de-silting, repair and renovation was required to be initiated with Deputy Commissioner personally monitoring the issue.
Harsh Dev Singh further regretted that the much awaited expansion of Jammu Airport seemed to have gone in a limbo despite Rs. 70 crore having been sanctioned for the project in 2011. He said that in view of repeated concerns expressed in respect of the short and rough Jammu runway and allied resultant threats, the govt. had embarked upon an expansion plan envisaging increase in runway length, passenger holding capacity from 200 to 700 and expansion of Airport building and its premises. Rebuking the State govt. for indulging in mere rhetoric and only issuing media statements on the subject, he regretted the much needed project has been consigned into the cold storage. He pointed out that with no civil vehicles allowed to enter, the incoming and outgoing passengers have to face a lot of inconvenience.
Pointing towards the Srinagar Airport which has received focused attention of successive govts with its upgradation as an international Airport by introducing Haj flights also, Mr. Singh deplored the raw deal given to Jammu Airport besides leaving the Jammu passengers at the mercy of Almighty. He said even the small station airport near Kullu in Himachal Pradesh has better ambiance and capacity than Jammu Airport. Observing that the short and rough runway at Jammu is not only a nightmare for pilots and passengers, but the landing and take-offs are also extremely risky and bumpy.
Making out a strong case for upgradation of Jammu Airport on the analogy of Srinagar Airport, Mr. Harsh Dev Singh said that 1.20 crore pilgrims visit Mata Vaishino Devi Shrine every year besides huge rush of other pilgrims and tourists which could further escalate if air traffic facilities are improved. He further said while the Modi led govt. was talking of developing modern and smart cities, Jammu was being deprived of even the basic facilities desperately needed for safety and security of the people. Warning the govt. to take due note of the complaint of AOC he cautioned the State govt. to take his words seriously that “should a tragic event occur, we will not be able to explain the inaction”. (CNS)