Silchar, Aug. 23: The ground lighting facility at Kumbhirgram airport, 25km from here, is expected to be operational “very soon” so that flights can land and take-off at night.
Union minister of state for civil aviation K.C. Venugopal said this in the Lok Sabha yesterday in reply to a written question by former Union telecom minister Kabindra Purakayastha, who is also the BJP MP from Silchar.
Purakayastha had pointed out that despite all infrastructure, including lighting facilities, having been installed at the airport, the night-landing facility had not started because of opposition from the Indian Air Force (IAF).
IAF sources said lack of “adequate personnel” at Kumbhirgram airport, which is under under the joint control of the Union defence and civil aviation ministries and the IAF, was a big hurdle in starting the facility.
Purakayastha said Venugopal had said in his reply that the defence ministry had given the nod for starting night-landing facility. Quoting the minister, the BJP legislator today said he hoped the IAF would not sit on the proposal to start night-landing facility at the airport.
Dipankar Sen Roy, executive director of Airports Authority of India (AAI) at Silchar airport, said they were ready to “operationalise” night landing and take-off facilities for civilian aircrafts.
He said at present Air India and Jet Airways use the airport for their flights connecting Silchar with Calcutta, Guwahati and Imphal airports. He said Indigo was expected to start its services from the airport soon.
Sources at Silchar airport said lighting arrangements to illuminate the airport’s runway and terminal buildings at night were commissioned at a cost of Rs 4 crore in 2009, but objections by the IAF had halted the project.