Patna,(BiharTimes):Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s suggestion to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) that the Patna airport should be shifted to Nalanda, his home district, has evoked strong reactions from business community, air travellers and even political opponents.
Criticising the move the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Qaisar said if Patna airport is shifted to Nalanda, which is nearly 100 km from Patna, it would consume three hours in reaching the airport, which is not justifiable.
Another Congress leader Prem Chandra Mishra, asked as to why the state government is not interested in developing an airport at Fatuha, Maner, Dhanarua or Masaurhi, all of which are within the 20-30 km radius of the state capital.
Leader of opposition in the Bihar Assembly, Abdul Bari Siddiqui, was more critical when he said: “Why only airport? Nitish should shift the entire state capital to Nalanda.” Exactly the same was the reaction of an unknown airport official quoted in a newspaper recently.
Frequent fliers are not buying the claim that a high class road would reduce the journey time between Patna and airport in Nalanda to just half an hour or so. “How will this be possible?” one of them asked. It would take less time to cover distance between Patna and Delhi than reach the airport itself.
Another passenger questioned why should there be airport in Nalanda when there already exists an international airport in Gaya, almost the same distance from Patna.
As reported earlier too the Airport Authority of India, while maintaining that the Patna airport was unfit for the operation of bigger aircraft like Airbus 320 and Boeing 737, had identified 101 obstructions on either side of the runway, which were dangerous for aircraft landing.
It gave the state government the deadline of June 30, and asked it to remove the obstacles or face closure of the airport.
Interestingly, after the expiry of the deadline, the Patna airport is operating without a valid licence from the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Reports said that the DGCA, while granting licence to 45-odd domestic and international airports in India, has held back the decision to issue licence to Patna airport as it does not fulfil the requisite safety parameters.
It needs to be recalled that the AAI had earlier rejected the Nalanda proposal on the ground that the travel time to airport (2 to 3 hours) was more than flying hours (1 hour, Patna-Delhi). It had then suggested Bihta, barely 35 km from Patna, but the idea was turned down by the Nitish government.
The chief minister said that it is true that there was a proposal to shift Patna airport to Bihta, but it is not feasible as the government has already acquired huge tracts of land there for educational institutions.