Jammu Airport needs expansion, says Mufti

Jammu, May 23: The Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has arrived here on a two day official visit to Army formations of Northern Command accompanied by the Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh.  He was received by Lt Gen DS Hooda, the Northern Army Commander at Thoise Airfield.

The Minister arrived at Leh Airport where he was briefed by Lt Gen BS Negi, GOC 14 Corps, on the overall security situation in the Corps Zone and along the LAC. The Raksha Mantri also visited the Siachen Glacier and interacted with troops deployed at the World’s highest and the toughest battlefield.  Later in the day, he visited Srinagar, where he was briefed by Lt Gen Subrata Saha the GOC of 15 Corps on measures being taken by the Army to prevent infiltration, the operations being undertaken in the Area.  Op Sadbhavna and various welfare activities by the army in the state were also highlighted during the briefing.

Defence Minister, Manohar  Parrikar, who arrived here on a two visit to the state, called on Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed this evening.

Mufti-parrikar

During their meeting, which was also attended by senior officers of the State Government and Ministry of Defence, the two leaders discussed several strategic issues related to prevailing security situation in the State.

The Chief Minister took up with the Defence Minister matters related to civil aviation which included allowing night-landing facilities at Srinagar Airport and expansion and development of Jammu and Kargil Airports. He also highlighted the need for creating parking bay facilities at the strategically-located Leh Airport.

The sorting out of civil aviation issues will pave way for operation of additional flights to J&K which will go a long way in bringing down spiraling air fares during peak tourist season.

Mufti Sayeed also impressed upon Manohar Parrikar the urgent need to expand Jammu Airport, which is inadequate to handle additional flight operations. He said State Government will facilitate removal of bottlenecks in transfer of land to the Airport Authority of India, paving way for its expansion.

With inflow of pilgrims to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine at Katra increasing every year, the Jammu Airport requires expansion and up-gradation for increasing intake capacity and improving facilities for the passengers.

Mufti Sayeed also raised the issue of entrusting maintenance of National Highways in J&K, especially Srinagar-Jammu (NH1-A) and Batote-Kishtwar-Sinthan, with Border Roads Organization (BRO).

In his meeting with DG BRO yesterday, the Chief Minister had laid emphasis on having a single chain of command for maintenance of the vital Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, some patches of which are in a very critical condition.

The Chief Minister also raised the issue of removing restrictions on making Industrial Estate, Ompora, in Budgam functional. The issue of enhancement of compensation on account of death or injury due to operation of field firing ranges was also discussed.

Mufti Sayeed also raised the issue of reconciling excess land presently with the Army. He said an institutional mechanism has to be put in place between the officials of State Government and the MoD so that the issue is resolved in a time-bound manner.

The Chief Minister made a special request for vacation of Toto Ground by the Army, which is in the heart of the summer capital, so that civic facilities are developed in the larger public interest. He also raised the issue of transfer of Khurbathang Plateau to LAHDC, Kargil.

The issue of enhancement of rentals for land in possession of the Army was also discussed in the meeting. The Defence Minister assured the Chief Minister early positive consideration by his Ministry.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar  also had a meeting with Governor, N N Vohra and discussed various important matters relating to effective management of internal and external security, particularly in the backdrop of several terrorist infiltrations from across the IB in the past year and a half and the more recent encounters in the Valley.

Among the several other matters discussed with the Raksha Mantri the Governor stressed the need for urgent strengthening of the BRO’s resources for ensuring the maintenance of the vital road networks and strategic connectivities in J&K. The Governor also solicited Parrikar’s personal intervention for the return of certain pieces of the lands to the State Government, particularly those at Satwari, Jammu; Army Transit Camp in the Jammu University; and land for the long pending extension of the Kargil airport runway, about all of which he had earlier written to the Raksha Mantri.

The Governor lauded the missionary dedication with which the officers and men of the Army were continuing to perform their role, in the most difficult situations.

The Raksha Mantri and the COAS would be visiting the Nagrota based White Knight Corps today.

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