Leh airport, world’s unique airport in terms of its location at highest altitude, decidedly assumes much importance and its expansion and modernization is much required. The urge was felt and an impulse got generated for its expansion several years back, looking to the increase in the passengers and the flights, planned by the Union Government but strangely enough, became a victim of uncertainty of administrative clarity, procedural wilderness and absence of decisions taking abilities. These all, pathetically have resulted in “no take -off” of the development and expansion of this airport. It sounds quite paradoxical that Airport Authority India’s local officers even feign innocence about the likely date of the work on this project getting started.
Existing passenger handling capacity being inadequate, no provision for new parking bays, absence of terminal building and associated dearth of facilities, necessitated start of the work on the project at an early date and with the requisite speed but nothing of the sort has taken place as yet. The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Develop-mental Council Leh and District Administration have expressed concern over the inordinate delay over the start of the project.
To start with, a large chunk of land was required to be acquired and the process took a long time than required since the land, though belonging to the State Government, was under possession of the Indian Air Force. They could not part with the land unless alternate piece of land was provided to them as they had to shift their utilities before vacating it. Could all this system of avoidable procedures not be evaded or circumvented? It is today’s reality that passengers do not mind paying extra, which they do , provided they get better facilities on airports including more flights to accommodate surge in the number of travelling people preferring to fly especially in the instant case.
We do not, in absolute terms, blame those who are vested with powers to take decisions in the matter that they did not do their part of the job but what is not expected is not taking innovative and fast decisions , the key to register development in any sphere or field. That actually is the crux of the present case.
Reports are that the office of the Deputy Commissioner Leh has since completed the necessary formalities and “done their job” of resolving the basic core issue of land which is commendable but what keeps the Airport Authority of India from starting the work on the project, is baffling. It is all the more incomprehensible as to even after pre- construction activities like consultations, soil testing and preparation of site plan having all been completed , the work is yet to be started.
We would like to urge the authorities concerned to reverse the tendency of lethargy by starting the work on the project at an early date to enable the passengers have all the facilities from the proposed centrally air conditioned new terminal building, lifts, escalators and the like so as to get a feel of a modern type of airport otherwise much needed in the instant case. The State Government is expected to take up the case with the concerned Union Ministry so that the time frame of the project being completed by 2020 is made a possibility.