By: ML Verma
Shimla: Failing to survive lack of demand for ATF (aviation turbine fuel) at the Shimla Civil Airport, the Indian Oil-run ATF filling station at Jubberhati has been closed down with effect from 31 March, 2010.
A source at the Civil Airport, Jubberhati, told HimVani that before winding up the station, the state government had been informed about the inability of Indian Oil to no longer bear the burden of losses as the state government was charging about 25 percent VAT on ATF, besides carriage charges.
A state government chopper, an airline aircraft (a single flight operated from here by a private airlines) and chartered aircrafts (seldom) used to purchase ATF from this filling station, but imposition of VAT and recent hike in ATF prices in the country left the filling station blank.
Source said that the ATF station had become a ‘White Elephant’ for the PSU, which was left with no options but to close it down. Now only one Indian Oil ATF filling station is operating in Himachal at Bhuntar airport in Kullu district. Sources also said that the airlines operating flights to Shimla has signed an agreement with Hindustan Petroleum, another oil marketing PSU, which further aggravated IO’s losses.
With closing of this ATF, all staff employed by IO has been retrenched from their jobs. All equipment has also been shifted from here to other ATF filling station of IO. According to an aviation expert, availability of ATF is essential during emergency landings and VVIP movement in the state.
Despite abandoning of the station by IO, there seems no effort from the government to save the airport from being degraded due to lack of ATF facility. The only chopper being run by the state government is said to be carrying ATF through its own tanker after purchasing it at lesser rates in Chandigarh, sources added.