Deadline on Airport expansion delayed as VIP movement hampers work

Nishikant Khajuria
JAMMU, Jan 23:  Frequent interruption in the ongoing work due to VIP movement during the recently held Assembly elections has led to delay in the deadline for completion of much needed Jammu Airport expansion project.
Now the stipulated date of completion of Rs 75 crore expansion project is December 2015, instead of September 2015, which means further delay in permitting operations for more Airlines and additional flights at Jammu Airport, official sources informed the Excelsior.
Besides, sources added, unprecedented delay in handing over of 27 kanal State land adjoining the Airport premises to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) because of un-necessary obstructions by the Ministry of Defence is other major factor denying vehicle parking and other facilities at the Jammu Airport.
Pertinent to mention that following clearance of the Defence Ministry, the much awaited work on the expansion of Jammu Airport was taken off in November-December 2013. In the first phase, several existing structures like Cargo complex, CRPF pickets, parking lots etc were razed for subsequent extension of the runway and raising of structures including terminal building from three sides doubling its total Pax capacity from the existing one.
Besides increasing passenger capacity of the terminal from 360 to 720 with modern facilities like escalators, the expansion project for Jammu Airport includes shopping facilities at arrival and departure, sewage treatment plant, water treatment plan and rainwater harvesting etc in the complex.
However, the ongoing work hit the rock after the State Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir were announced in the month of October 2014. Due to the free flow of movement by the VIPs having special category security cover and extra-ordinary precautions associated with regard to safety measures for these high profile people, mostly politicians, since announcement of polls, the ongoing work of expansion on this hyper sensitive and operational Airport was severely affected, sources explained.
The expansion work  got hampered to some extent earlier also in the month of September following massive floods in the State and during the last Lok Sabha elections in the month of  April-May, sources said.
When contacted, Director Airport Authority Jammu, Ramesh Kumar confirmed that  due to the rush of VIP movement during the Assembly elections here, the Airport expansion work was hampered.
“So far more than 30 percent work has been completed and now additional men and machinery has been pressed to compensate the delay but it will take around an year for completion of the entire project,” he said while admitting that the deadline for finishing the job has been extended to December 2015.
The Director also admitted that unprecedented delay in handing over 27 kanal State land adjoining the Airport premises was another major bottleneck in the expansion project as the Airport Authority of India was not getting possession of this area despite depositing of Rs 5.32 crores as compensation to the State in 2008. “This area has been earmarked for a huge car parking site but due to delay in getting possession of the land, we are unable to start work on the project,” he added.
According to Deputy Commissioner Jammu A K Sahu, objections of the Office of Defence State were the only hurdle in rehabilitation of the refugee families residing in the quarters on the land, to be handed over   to the AAI. “However, I have now issued clear cut instructions for shifting these families in the quarters to the new site,” he said and reminded that the Government had already accorded sanction to the transfer of Irrigation and Flood Control Department land on the left side of main Ranbir canal in village Rakh Raipur for the rehabilitation purpose.

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