| Amid the aviation crisis, Nitish Kumar flew into chaos. Pandemonium broke out at a rally of the JD(U) students’ wing in Patna when a section of party workers aggressively demonstrated against students’ wing president Ranjan Kumar who was seated on the dais with Nitish. The chief minister (seen in picture with a protester) had to admonish Kumar for not being able to rein in his cadres. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh
Patna, Aug. 9: The clouds of uncertainty hanging over Jai Prakash Narayan International Airport today appeared to have lifted a bit with Airports Authority of India (AAI) saying they were “satisfied” with the steps taken to remove obstructions along the landing approach funnel.
“We are satisfied with the steps taken by the state government on removal of obstacles around Patna airport. We would soon send the corresponding report to the director-general of civil aviation (DGCA) and ministry of civil aviation,” said G.K. Chaukiyal, board member (operations), AAI.
Chaukiyal, along with joint director-general, DGCA, J.S. Rawat reached Patna on Wednesday following talks between chief minister Nitish Kumar and civil aviation minister Ajit Singh.
Chaukiyal and Rawat, along with officials of Patna airport, met Bihar chief secretary Navin Kumar and principal secretary, cabinet coordination, Ravikant yesterday. “The officials of AAI and DGCA were informed about the updated status on removal of obstacles at Patna airport. However, we are yet to receive any response from either agency,” Ravikant told The Telegraph today.
AAI sources said they were hopeful that the AAI notice shortening the length of the airport runway would be rescinded. “We are expecting DGCA to revise its earlier stand regarding obstacles at Patna airport within a couple of days after which the operation of bigger aircraft like Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 would continue to be technically safe,” a top source in the eastern region office of AAI told The Telegraph from Calcutta.
The AAI and DGCA representatives were taken on an aerial survey of Patna airport this morning in the state-owned Dauphin SA 365N helicopter. “We wanted the officials to see for themselves the corrective measures taken by the government to remove the obstacles. The officials, during their talks with us, expressed satisfaction over the removal of obstacles, including pruning of trees inside Patna zoo, and other places around the airport,” said a state government official who was part of the survey team.
The central officials were also taken on a ground survey of the airport. The team then went to Bihta air base, around 25km west of the airport. Wing Commander Namdev, who said he was in charge of security at the base, said: “This is a routine visit of officials of AAI to this base and we have not been informed about any specific agenda for their arrival.”
Ravikant said he did not have any idea about the Bihta visit. “We do not have any information regarding the visit of AAI team to Bihta air base,” he said.
Faced with the prospect of Patna being thrown off the aviation map from next Thursday, when the AAI revised runway length takes effect, the government has shifted gears to ensure the obstacles are removed that would make the airport fit for big planes.
“The chief secretary has instructed all departments concerned to remove obstacles falling on properties of the state government by August 12. Around 95 per cent of the obstacles have already been removed. The chief secretary will hold a meeting with the divisional railway manager (Danapur), East Central Railway, on Saturday regarding pruning of trees along the Howrah-Delhi line,” said a senior government official.
State BJP chief C.P. Thakur said he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and requested that Bihar be given three months’ time for removing the obstructions.