The Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) are facing an uphill task to ensure Jai Prakash Narayan International Airport’s survival in its present form allegedly for want of co-operation from the state government and other agencies.
As many as 101 obstacles obstruct the way of the aircraft approach funnel and force flights taking off and landing compromise on safety, resulting in a tussle between the AAI and the state government. These include several electric poles, mobile towers, rooftop water tanks, high-mast streetlights and railway utilities along the Howrah-Delhi tracks.
The state government was told to take immediate steps with regard to removal of the obstructions at a meeting of senior officials of AAI, the state civil aviation and state environment and forests department in Delhi on May 24. Barring some paperwork, things remain static.
A senior official of Patna airport told The Telegraph on Tuesday that a situation has arisen when DGCA would be left with no option but to notify the length of the runways at the airport to the effective length. (See graphics)
“We regularly communicate the state government’s stand to the DGCA. The way things stand now, there seems to be no option for the regulatory authority than to notify the length of runways at the airport to whatever length is actually available for landing and take-off of aircraft without removing the obstructions. This, in turn, would leave the airport unfit for operation of bigger aircraft like Airbus 320 and Boeing 737-700,” said the official.
Acting on the AAI’s directives, the environment and the forests department had earlier sent a proposal to the Union ministry of environment and forests for pruning 2,917 trees at Patna zoo. But no reply has come yet. “The state government sent a proposal to the Union ministry for pruning of the trees around three weeks ago, which can only start after a corresponding approval,” said Abhay Kumar, the director of Patna zoo. Abhay said no trees have been pruned at Patna zoo.
Sources said pruning of the zoo trees to heights of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 and 15 metres from the ground would kill almost 900 trees.
A month ago, Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) had sent notices to 11 private residential apartments, identified as obstructions, but only five responded with clarifications. PMC commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pal said: “We have received response from owners of only five buildings, which we are reviewing. We are going to serve fresh notices to owners of the rest of the buildings within a couple of days.”
The airport obstacle issue generates heat every now and then with the chief minister issuing statements, which put the ball in the AAI’s court.