JAMMU, Feb 6: Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan has sought response from the Airport Authority of India and Chief Secretary on starting night flights from Jammu airport.
The direction in this regard was issued in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Advocate Ravi Abrol seeking directions to the respondents to upgrade the Jammu Airport at par with the international airports with provision of operating international flights in view of large number of pilgrims visiting Jammu to pay obeisance at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine.
After hearing Senior Advocate Sunil Sethi with Advocate Ravi Abrol for the PIL whereas Advocate Inderjeet Gupta for the Airport Authority of India and Senior AAG SS Nanda for the State, the DB observed, “the counsel for the petitioner has submitted that the Airport Authority of India has not responded to the issue relating to the night flights as well as increase of frequency of flights to Jammu”.
Accordingly, DB directed Airport Authority of India to examine the issue and file a status report in this regard.
During the course of hearing, Senior Advocate Sunil Sethi drew the attention of the court towards the averments made by the Airport Authority of India in its objections to the PIL. He said that Ministry of Civil Aviation has already agreed in principle for construction of new green field airport at Jammu provided free of cost and encumbrances free land is made available by the State Government.
“AAI has already paid an amount of Rs 5,34 crore to State Government between 2007 to 2011 against the compensation for land adjacent to airport entrance for construction of multi-level parking as per norms prescribed by Bureau of Civil Aviation Security. However, the land is yet to be handed over by State Government to AAI”, he submitted, adding “car parking has to be minimum 100 meters away from the Terminal Building as per Bureau of Civil Aviation stipulation, but due to space constraints same is not possible at Jammu Airport therefore the vehicles are not allowed in the airport premises”.
On this, DB observed, “a grievance is additionally made with regard to the failure of the State Government to commence night flights from the Jammu Airport. The issue(s) pointed out by the Airport Authority of India and other vital aspects require response of the State Government”.
Accordingly, DB directed that the matter shall be placed before the Chief Secretary of the State for consideration and the view taken by the State Government be placed before this court on the next date of hearing.