HC seeks DC Budgam’s report to prevent frequent flight cancellation at airport

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Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday directed Deputy Commissioner Budgam to submit within week’s time a report which Airport Authority of India (AAI) said would enable it to take a call on installation of CAT-I approach lights to compliment the instrument of landing system for preventing frequent cancellation of flights, especially during winters, at Srinagar ‘international’ airport, a joint military-cum-civil airfield.

The airport has the ILS facility for ‘runway-31’ towards Budgam but there is no approach lighting system to complement it.

If approach lighting system was installed for runway-31, then the minimum visibility would be 800 meters and this would ensure smooth landing of flights at the airport during the winters, the court was informed.

“The problem for runway-31 is requirement of 900 meters of land and only 300 meters of ‘levelled land’ is available while other 600 meters of land is of lower level,” the court had observed on previous hearing and directed the AAI to examine the land after making survey on spot along with deputy commissioner Budgam.

As the hearing started before division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, AAI submitted that an expert committee, constituted by it, visited the airport for two days and carried out site survey in coordination with Indian Air Force (IAF).

The AAI submitted that the surveyed data for the lower land beyond boundary wall is yet to be received from the deputy Commissioner as such feasibility report for utilizing the land for installation of CAT-I approach lights will be submitted after the surveyed data was received from him.

Meanwhile the court also directed the AAI to immediately install the Simple Approach Light System (SALS) for runway-31 as 300 meter land was available within airport boundary wall from threshold.

More than 200 flights were cancelled during first fortnight of January this year in absence of approaching lights system to augment ILS at the airport.

So far as runway-13, towards Chadoora, is concerned, the court has been informed that there adequate land available with the Air Force. However, the runway-13 does not have ILS in place as also approach lighting system. The court has already directed both AAI and Air Force authority take a decision in this regard and report to the court.

The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation that it has initiated on its own motion, seeking to provide necessary facilities to passengers travelling to and from Kashmir by air.

The PIL was initiated by Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and on December 14, Chief Justice had directed its registration as suo-moto PIL. In this petition, the judge noticed that the AAI has, prima facie, failed to take notice of hardships and difficulties being regularly faced by the people, who travel to and fro Kashmir by air.

In this PIL, the judge noticed that the AAI has, prima facie, failed to take notice of hardships and difficulties being regularly faced by the people, who travel to and fro Kashmir by air.

The judge also noticed that the authorities have, prima facie, failed to take appropriate remedial measures by upgrading the lighting system and installing the required gadgets at the Srinagar airport and, consequently has failed to discharge public duty.

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