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Posted at: Apr 1, 2016, 2:29 AM; last updated: Apr 1, 2016, 2:29 AM (IST)

Shut airport, if you can’t make it operational: HC

Hints at CBI probe

  • The Bench saidRs 1,400crhad been spent on the project, and it would not hesitate in ordering a CBI probe into the matter even if international flights were made operational.
Shut airport, if you can’t make it operational: HC

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today said the people were feeling cheated, and asserted that the Chandigarh international airport should be shut down and reverted to its original position, if the authorities could not make it operational.

Just over two months after French President Francois Hollande commenced his three-day India visit from Chandigarh, the High Court today made it clear that the authorities concerned were making a mockery of the situation by giving the impression that his landing at the airport had made it international.

Rapping the authorities concerned for a total eyewash, the Bench headed by Justice SS Saron also indicated at a CBI probe on the issue of fund utilisation and delay in making it international.

As a petition filed in public interest on making the Chandigarh international airport fully functional after spending Rs 1,400 crore came up for resumed hearing, the Bench asked the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and a secretary-level officer of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to specify the number of airlines contacted for making the airport international.

The Bench said Assistant Solicitor-General of India Chetan Mittal and counsel for the AAI Atul Nanda should attend the next meeting of the DGCA before placing the minutes of the meeting before the court.

Taking note of the claim that 48 airlines had been contacted, the Bench also called for details before fixing April 7 as the next date of hearing. The Bench said Rs 1,400 crore had been spent on the project, and it would not hesitate in ordering a CBI probe into the matter even if international flights were made operational. The Bench also wanted to know the position of the Amritsar airport. It said the authorities concerned kept talking of flights to Dubai and Bulgaria, while a large portion of the population here had interest in countries such as the USA and Canada.

During the course of the hearing, the minutes of the meeting held on March 28 at the DGCA headquarters in Delhi was placed before the Bench. It was informed that the AAI had briefed all scheduled domestic airlines on the preparedness of the airport for the commencement of international operations.

Tigerair had shown interest regarding the commencement of international operations on the Chandigarh-Singapore sector. A definite deadline, however, had not been confirmed. 

Air India also said it had submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Home Affairs for starting international operations from Chandigarh via Delhi. Permission from the MHA was awaited. 

Jet Airways said it had no intentions of starting international operations from Chandigarh in the 2016-17 financial year. Indigo said it could introduce international operations during the summer of 2016, subject to availability of viable operation slots at the Dubai and Mumbai airports.

The developments took place during the hearing of a petition filed by the Mohali Industries Association against non-operation of the Chandigarh international airport. 

The High Court, on a previous date of hearing, had expressed the hope that the Union of India would immediately consider the requests of airlines to start flights from the Chandigarh international airport “as per the existing policy”.

The Centre was also directed to submit a status report within two weeks.


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