Tabletop Shimla Airport runway on a top of Anokhidali hill near Jubberhati located at the outskirts of Shimla town was given nod by the Union Environment and Forest Ministry to Airport Authority of India (AAI) for restoration and expansion of the existing runway of Shimla airport costing about Rs 105 crore, the State Government official confirmed.
This airport turned white elephant on the public resources as no commercial operations are taking place here since September 2012 with holding of lone Kingfisher flights as it ceased operations. A senior Government official told Himvani that the AAI had submitted a project to the Union Environment and Forest Ministry has given environment clearance to the AAI’s proposal on restoration of basic strip, prevention of soil erosion and feasibility study for extension of the Shimla airport.
The nod was given with compliance of certain conditions and the cost of the proposed project is likely to be estimated around Rs 105.02 crore. As per the proposal, AAI wants to do restoration and grading of runway strip, put runway markings and signs and also runway-end safety area on either side of the runway strip. The authority has proposed extension of apron to accommodate VIP aircraft along with the schedule of aircraft operation of ATR-42.
It proposed to construct taxi link and take remedial measures to check soil erosion of airstrip including side slopes. That apart, AAI wants to improve drainage including repairs of existing cross and longitudinal drains of airstrip, construct six meter wide road to connect fire station to operational gate. No commercial operations are taking place at this airport since September 2012 when Kingfisher Airlines ceased its operations. Its basic strip has been eroded due to rains over the years.
“Based on the information submitted by the project proponent, the Environment Ministry has given environment clearance to the AAI’s proposal on restoration of basic strip, prevention of soil erosion and feasibility study for extension of Shimla airport,” a senior government official said. The airport is currently looked after by the AAI having functional staff strength of about 100 people including its security persons. Occasionally charter flights land here however it remained underutilized round the year. The Union Government has also shown interest to start 19 seater donier aircraft here from March this year.