Chandigarh

Saheed Bhagat Singh international airport to have one more runway, Centre tells HC

September 07, 2016 06:23 AM

Chandigarh: The Centre on Thursday told the Punjab and Haryana high court that the Saheed Bhagat Singh international airport will have a parallel CAT-III B facility compliant runway (which help aircraft operation in zero visibility during fog). No time-frame has been given.

The quality of a runway is determined by the runway visual range. It is the distance over which a pilot of an aircraft can see the runway surface during foggy weather conditions. CAT-II lighting system is required for RVR above 300 m (moderate fog). CAT-IIIB- lighting system is required when RVR is 46 m or less, also called zero visibility.

Assistant solicitor general Chetan Mittal said, “Certain Indian Air Force (IAF) installations or assets will require removal or demolition. These installations are indispensable for operational reasons. Hence, present runway can’t be upgraded to CAT-IIIB facility,” he said. The old runway would remain CAT-II compliant, operational in moderate fog conditions (runway visibility of around 300 m).

NO TO INCREASE IN OPERATIONS

The Central government has also told the court that, for now, watch-hour facility cannot be extended beyond 10pm on weekdays and 8 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. “Two-hour relaxation on Saturday and Sunday is considered crucial to match with other IAF operational commitments,” the court was told. Previously, the Centre had promised watch-hour facility up to midnight.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has said no to providing manpower for extending watch hours, contradicting its earlier stand in the HC where it had stated that it could give manpower, provided the government allowed it, since nod from the IAF was required. The IAF has said the facility could be extended only after 2018.

OLD RUNWAY TO BE RE-CARPETED

The court was told that for existing runway resurfacing, tender would be issued by September 30. However, no deadline was given. Earlier, the Centre had told the court that it would try and complete the project within one year. On Thursday, the court was miffed over the dillydallying tactics of the government and the delay in operations of international flights, an year after inauguration.

At one point, the bench of justice SS Saron and justice Lisa Gill observed that Centre was treating states and high courts like its “colonies”; and lamented that the air force too had buckled under pressure.

The petitioner, Mohali Industries Association’s, counsel Puneet Bali said that it was a national shame that manpower for extension of watch hours for the next two years was not available when training could be given in 15 months.

“We are not interested in international operation anymore. Now, we want prosecution of those who have delayed the project,” the HC bench observed adding, “When officials from Delhi are in HC they say something else, but by the time they cross the Kundli border, they get back in Delhi mode,” the HC bench observed on civil aviation secretary’s appearance in HC and his claims of having infrastructure at city airport ‘well in time’. Later, Indian Air Force officials were called in and they apprised the court on various aspects of airport in the in-camera proceedings. The hearing would resume on Friday.

 

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