Will Meghalaya govt abandon Umroi airport for a new one?

Meghalaya Transport Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar on Tuesday said that the government would require more than Rs 7000 crore to upgrade Umroi Airport in the state. However, he said that discussions are still on whether to upgrade the airport or go for new ones with less expenditure.

“We wanted to enhance Umroi Airport but according to a report, it is not feasible because of some obstacles. We are discussing if we can build a new airport, may be, there will be less expenditure. But as of now we cannot say yes or no on this issue,” Dhar said.

The transport minister, who inspected ongoing works at Umroi Airport on Tuesday, told reporters that though the airport is not feasible for landing of big aircraft at present, there is good news because one aircraft of IndiGo will start operating from July 20, and one more aircraft is also coming to operate from Umroi to Raipur via Kolkata.
On extension of the runway of Umroi Airport, Dhar said that work for extension of runway is being suspended because there are still some hillocks blocking the visibility of the runway.

“Some shortcomings of the airport are due to inability of big aircraft to land and take off, because the runway cannot be extended as of now due to certain obstacles,” he said.

The airport requires extension of its 6,000-feet runway which supports only an ATR-42 aircraft now. The runway will be extended to about 8,000 feet to facilitate operation of bigger planes.

The Airports Authority of India, in its affidavit, in 2017 pointed out that for making Umroi Airport fully functional, it requires huge amount for removing obstacles in three clusters-I, II and III.

Meanwhile, during a hearing at the Meghalaya High Court, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) submitted before the court that for cutting of cluster-I, it would entail an expenditure of Rs 8000 crore.

The counsel for DGCA also submitted that without cutting of cluster-I, it will not be possible to grant permission for landing of regular turbojet aircraft at Umroi airport.

Similar situation existed at the airports of Mizoram, Sikkim and Leh where DGCA had already accorded approval and Boeing Aircrafts are landing.

Based on this, the court directed the DGCA to produce the entire record regarding grant of sanction for landing of turbojet at the three airports in Mizoram, Sikkim and Leh.

The court also asked the DGCA to furnish details of the amount of Rs 8000 crore in the form of an affidavit, and submit the list of obstacles, which according to the DGCA are required to be removed before sanction could be accorded to the Airport Authority of India for landing of turbojet at Umroi airport.

The next hearing is on July 15.

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