NEW DELHI, Sept 21: Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh and Lieutenant Governor J&K Manoj Sinha today launched the Kishtwar Airport project under Centre’s UDAN scheme with the formal signing of an MoU.
Pertinent to mention here that Dr Jitendra Singh had first initiated the proposal about three years back to develop an airport at Kishtwar. However, there were certain constraints and issues since the land adjoining the existing airstrip was in the possession of Defence authorities.
The proposal envisaged that the existing helicopter strip in Kishtwar will be further extended to make it viable for the landing of the aircraft. A series of meetings between the Defence authorities and the Ministry of Civil Aviation were organised by Dr Jitendra Singh over the last several months at New Delhi, before an amicable agreement could be arrived at.
The airport at Kishtwar, said Dr Jitendra Singh, would cater to the entire region falling under the erstwhile District of Doda. This, he said, will not only lead to ease of travel and tourism but also facilitate trade and business through ease of connectivity.
The airport at Kishtwar, according to Dr Jitendra Singh, will also expedite the work on two major Power Projects Pakal Dul and Keru. In addition, with the proposal for a Saffron Park in Kishtwar and Sapphire mine there, the presence of an airport will offer a major boost for business and trade.
On the occasion, Dr Jitendra Singh also disclosed that he has proposed to the Airport Authority of India and the Defence Authorities that the airport at Udhampur may also be permitted for civilian use. He said, once this gets negotiated, it may be possible to land a civilian aircraft at Udhampur also and, thus, will be used for commercial flights as well.
Brig. Vikram Bhan, Commander, 9 Sector RR and S. Katoch, Commissioner Civil Aviation signed the MoU.
BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary; Nitishwar Kumar Principal Secretary to Lt Governor; Sanjeev Verma, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu; M Raju, Secretary to the Government, Civil Aviation Departments, Achal Sethi, Secretary to Government, Department of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs and other senior officers were present on the occasion.
Lt Gen. YK Joshi, GOC-in C Northern Command; Lt Gen. Harsha Gupta, GOC 16 Corps; Col. Rajneesh Giri, and Col. AK Panwar represented the Indian Army.
The Lt Governor observed that the Airstrip would provide a vital connectivity to Kishtwar district to benefit both Defence personnel and civilians, even during the severe winter conditions and for medical & other emergencies, besides giving a fillip to the socio-economic development of the region.
Highlighting the benefits of developing airstrip at Kishtwar, the Lt Governor observed that the project is aimed to benefit around 2,50,000 people of Kishtwar district.
The Lt Governor hoped that the project would deliver the desired results like increasing per capita earnings in district, owing to higher tourists influx which will facilitate better and quick transport facility through operationalization of airstrip; Better Health Indicator (HDI)-low mortality rates- the speedy and crucial transfer of patient to better equipped Jammu hospital will be possible and this will reduce the time taken to travel from 8 hours to less than 30 minutes; better monitoring and administration of the district-the reduction in travelling time (for frequent meetings in Jammu) will leave officers of the district with more time to spare for the public and Integration of people with the main land, large parts of district remain out of bounds for the normal people, even the residents find it difficult to commute from such far flung areas.
The meeting was informed that in November, 2017, under UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aaam Nagrik) Phase-II Regional connectivity scheme launched by Government of India that aims to make unserved / underserved airports in small cities operational with regular flights and other subsidized airfares to encourage more people to fly, Kishtwar district of UT was included among 24 other districts.