Umroi airport issue: High Court asks Survey of India to appear on Aug 6

Shillong Aug 1: The Meghalaya High Court has directed officials of the Survey of India to appear before the Court on August 6, following suggestion that they should examine the feasibility of landing of big aircrafts at Umroi Airport.

Hearing the matter, the division bench comprising of chief justice Ajay Kumar Mittal and Justice HS Thangkhiew in its order passed on July 29, said, “After hearing learned counsel for the parties, it is directed that the responsible officers/officials of the Survey of India shall be present in the Court on the next date of hearing (August 6).”

Earlier, counsel for respondents No.4 and 5 submitted that it would be appropriate to get the matter of feasibility of landing of big aircrafts examined by an independent body for which he suggested that responsible officials from the Survey of India may be called.

The bench has also directed that notice be issued to Air India which is operating flight from Kolkata to Shillong and back, following its decision to withdraw operation with effect from August 10.

K Paul, counsel for respondents No.4 and 5 has referred to the affidavit dated 27.06.2018 filed by MR Synrem, Commissioner and Secretary, Transport Department, Government of Meghalaya. He drew the attention of the Court to internal page 35 of the affidavit describing various obstacles which are coming in the way for granting permission for landing of big aircrafts.

N Mozika, senior counsel appearing for the AAI, submitted that in terms of the last order dated 15.07.2019, Manoj Kumar Nayak, who is presently serving as Airport Director, Shillong Airport, Meghalaya has filed an affidavit wherein in paragraph 5 thereof, various obstacles essentially required to be removed before permission could be granted for landing of bigger aircrafts have been described.

Nayak in his affidavit informed that on 12.01.2018 AAI had sought an approval from DGCA under Rule 83(2) of the Aircraft Rules 1937 to extend the Runway length by 457 meter viz. 225 meter in beginning of Runway 22 and 232 meters in beginning of Runway 04 to make total length of 2286 meters from existing runway length of 1829 meters on assurance for removal of obstacles by State Government.

He said the proposal for extension of Runway also include the strengthening of existing runway to increase the Pavement Classification Number (PCN) value and make it suitable for Airbus 320 operations. However, DGCA advised AAI to assess the obstacles in the approach/take off path within the proposed extension of runway for full utilization of extended Runway and that no request for displacement of threshold runway 04/22 will be considered.

It is pertinent to mention that OLS Survey indicates that Cluster-I obstacles were penetrating in the approach surface of Runway 22 from 13.5 meter to 159.2 meters. Further, as per the said OLS Survey, the penetration in obstacles in approach funnel of Runway 04 is from 1.9 meter to 37.9 meters. The OLS Survey was done as per the existing ICAO and Government of India Guidelines vide GSR 751(E) which require that the approach funnel with a gradient of 2/2.5 percent from the runway strip to a distance of 15 km should be free from every kind of obstruction/obstacle.

“The slope of approach surface shall not be greater than as specified in DGCA Civil Aviation Requirement, Section 4, Aerodrome Standards and Licensing, Series B Part 1. In view of the aforesaid observation of DGCA and without removal of obstructions highlighted in OLS Survey conducted by AAI the extended runway will not be usable and the expenditure will not be justifiable,” he said.

He further states that AAI being airport operator and also Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) shall follow the mandatory regulatory requirement as provided in DGCA Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) and Government of India statutory orders issued vide GSR 751(E) as amended from time to time for safe aircraft operations.

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