Friday, January 03, 2014

Lack of funds stall airstrip development: Ranchi, Jharkhand - India

RANCHI: There's still some time before the state-owned airstrips in Jharkhand can don a new and improved avatar.

"We have drawn the plans to develop six airstrips. The estimates are also ready, but bureaucratic problem is causing the delay," said civil aviation secretary Sajal Chakravarty.

Some of the 20-odd airstrips in the state are covered with thick bushes, so much so that they are hardly visible to the pilots. The ambitious proposal of revamping six of the 20 airstrips has been put on hold due to acute shortage of funds.

Jharkhand Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), constituted to provide better structural and technical facilities for existing airports and air transport systems, is unable to dispense funds to the civil aviation department for the purpose.

"The cabinet has declared JCAA as an illegal body for it was created without any legal sanction. Now we have been asked to constitute a new society and transfer the funds from JCAA to the new society," said Chakravarty. JCAA has Rs 15 crore in its kitty, which the department needs to develop the airstrips. The Jharkhand civil aviation department has started the process of constituting a civil aviation society. This has temporarily stalled the efforts to revamp the airstrips.

"The airstrips are danfraught with risk. At several airstrips, pits have been formed in the runway, in some pebbles are jutting out. At almost all airstrips, runway markings have been washed away," said an official, adding that the airstrips are at times used for the landing of air taxis.

The government owns seven airstrips in Jharkhand. Only Deoghar airstrip is in a good condition because it was revamped recently. The repair work of Dhanbad, Dumka, Daltonganj, Giridih, Chaibasa and Hazaribag is yet to be taken up. "I expect the repair work to be completed within six months,'' said Chakrvarty.

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