umroi airport minister
Meghalaya transport minister Sniawbhalang Dhar at Umroi airport on July 2, 2019. Image: Northeast Now

Indigo will start operating its flight from Umroi airport near Shillong in Meghalaya to Kolkata from July 20 next.

This was informed by Meghalaya transport minister, Sniawbhalang Dhar after he inspected ongoing works at Umroi Airport in Ri-Bhoi district.

Also read: Meghalaya HC pulls up AAI over flight operations to Umroi Airport

He informed that another aircraft would be also operated later from Umroi to Raipur via Kolkata.

Asked about expansion of Umroi airport, Dhar expressed doubt whether the airport can be expanded or not since huge amount is required to upgrade the airport for landing of big aircraft.

Umroi airport has not been fully functional till date, and only small aircrafts are being operated

Dhar said that according to a report, it is not feasible to upgrade the airport because of some obstacles and discussion is on about building a new airport that requires less expenditure.

“As of now we cannot say anything. If upgradation of one airport requires more than Rs 7000 crore, the state government is still under discussion about options – whether to upgrade the airport or go for new ones with less expenditure,” Dhar said.

The Umroi airport has a runway of 6,000-feet and the airport has to extend the runway to about 8,000 feet to facilitate landing of big planes.

“Work for extension of the runway has been suspended for a time being because there are some obstacles (hills) that block the runway,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Meghalaya High Court heard the case related to Umroi airport in the bench of chief justice, Ajay Kumar Mittal and justice, H S Thangkhiew on Tuesday.

During the course of the hearing,  a counsel for the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) submitted before the court that for cutting of cluster-I (hill), it would entail an expenditure of Rs 8000 crore.

The counsel for DGCA also submitted that without cutting of cluster-I, it will not be possible to grant permission for landing of regular turbojet that is, Boeing aircraft at Umroi airport.

Amicus Curiae, P Yobin pointed out that similar situation exists at the Mizoram, Sikkim and Leh airports where the DGCA had already accorded approval and Boeing Aircrafts are landing there.

On this, the court directed the DGCA to produce the entire record regarding grant of sanction for landing of turbojet at the three airports in Mizoram, Sikkim and Leh.

The court also asked the DGCA to furnish details of the amount of Rs 8000 crore in the form of an affidavit, and submit the list of obstacles, which according to the DGCA are required to be removed before sanction could be accorded to the Airport Authority of India for landing of turbojet at Umroi airport.

The court has fixed the next hearing on July 15.

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