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Cattle-pit airport punches holes in Sibal claim - BJP cites defunct Raxaul aerodrome to question Delhi denial of central university at Motihari

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By R.N. SINHA
  • Published 15.02.12
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Motihari, Feb. 14: A BJP leader has taken a dig at the Centre for its alleged reluctance towards setting up of the Central University of Bihar (CUB) in East Champaran, citing unavailability of any airport in or around Motihari as a reason.

Senior BJP leader Mayankeshwar Singh claimed that the Union government’s standpoint was not justified because Raxaul airport, one of the oldest aerodromes in the country that was built immediately after the 1962 Chinese aggression, was lying defunct for nearly three decades and has become a paradise for picnickers and a grazing ground for cattle.

Barely 55km from Motihari, the Raxaul airport is among the six aerodromes in the state. It is situated along the India-Nepal frontier, around 96km from Kathmandu.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar had announced setting up of a central university, named after Mahatma Gandhi in Motihari, on November 20, 2008.

Subsequently, the state government completed the necessary formalities.

“Despite all this, Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal has been hesitating in giving a nod to the setting up of the university,” said Mayankeshwar, who is also the national joint convener of the BJP’s Govansh Vikas Pradhikaran.

“The reasons cited by the Union minister to deny the university to the people of Champaran are rooted in his dislike towards the chief minister’s growing popularity across the country,” added the leader, who was in Motihari recently.

The BJP leader from East Champaran said: “On one hand, a number of central universities in the Northeast have no air connectivity. But on the other hand, Sibal is not allowing setting of the university in Champaran despite the fact that one of the oldest airports of the country is situated in Raxaul. This only proves the double standards of Sibal,” Mayankeshwar added.

To drive home his point, Mayankeshwar said the Union minister had not raised the same “geographical” issues while giving clearance to several central universities in other parts of the state.

The airport, owned by the Airports Authority of India, was set up to thwart any possible attack from China after the 1962 war.

It was also used for emergency landing by Indian Air Force flights.

At present, the airport is in a shambles. Not only residents often visit the barren airstrip to organise picnics, the stretch is also used by farmers.

When contacted, Airports Authority of India, Patna, director Arvind Dubey confirmed that the Raxaul airport was owned by the organisation he works with. But he could not confirm the reasons that led to the current state of the airport.

“It’s not possible for me to say why exactly the airport is not functional. I have come to this place on transfer. It is difficult to say why flight operation stopped at this airport after 1973,” Dubey added.