Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pakistan - Retrieval of Walton land Plane crash strengthens Punjab government case

LAHORE, Feb 23: The crash of a two-seater plane in Model Town seems to have strengthened the Punjab government’s case to retrieve its land at Walton from the Civil Aviation Authority.

“The Punjab government has long been asking the CAA to return its land at Walton but the latter refuses on one or the other pretext,” a representative of the Punjab government told Dawn.

“Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken a strong exception to the incident and steps will be taken to ensure shifting of the flying clubs from the residential area,” Dr Saeed Elahi, a parliamentary secretary on health, said.

He further said the Punjab government also wanted expansion of the road network at Walton because of traffic issues.

A CAA official confirmed that the authority only owned the land of the runway while the remaining tract belonged to the provincial government.

“After the sad incident, it will not be easy to retain the provincial government’s land,” he said. However, he said, unless the provincial government offered the authority an alternate place the shifting of the flying clubs from Walton was not possible.

“The flying clubs cannot be stopped from functioning as they are part and parcel of the aviation field,” he said.

On the other hand, some PIA engineers have blamed the Civil Aviation Authority for not having a strict check on the operations of the flying clubs.

“The CAA is lenient in dealing with some four flying clubs at the Walton Road. As we have seen the poor condition of most of the planes, there should be a strict monitoring of the aircraft the flying clubs are using,” a senior engineer told Dawn. He said now the CAA should review its “lenient” policy towards the flying clubs. Besides, it should also consider the proposal of shifting these clubs from the residential areas.

Another engineer said the CAA must make public the findings of the investigation into the incident so that other flying clubs in the country could take appropriate safety measures .

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