Fly Shimla-Dharamsala



SHIMLA: Reports that there have been no helicopter flights to the tribal areas of Himachal for the last few days is no good news for people residing in those areas, and also for the state’s just-surviving tourism industry. Imagine being stranded in a far-off cold mountain without food or other provision. Who would want to be in that kind of a situation? The tribal population in the state has no alternative, but the state government has an option.
While there is no doubt that communication infrastructure in the state is among the best in the country, but the same cannot be said about transport infrastructure. Undoubtedly there is a good road network is the state connecting more than 2,500 panchayats out of the 3,037.
That’s good work done considering that in 1948 there was just 288 km of road length and now it is about 25, 500 km. The government is talking about having expressways in the state. The first one was proposed to be built along the Shimla-Chandigarh highway, which would have reduced the travel time between the two places by at least two hours. But keeping in view the topography of the state, what we need are good roads and not expressways that would require mountains of rock and gravel to be leveled. As such roads in Himachal face quick denudation due to extreme weather condition, which makes maintenance difficult.
Though the government has been demanding its share of rail network from the Union, but that too would not solve the problem for a large part of the state population.

That leaves with air travel as the only other practical mode of traveling which needs to be explored. If we go by the topography of the state, road traveling is too time consuming and does not suit someone who has to travel across the state.
The problem being that we have a negligible network of airstrips in the state. The three airports in the state have just begun doing some business and that too due to reduction in air fairs across the country and not any initiative from within the state. If a private airline can today offer a ticket just Rs 500 on the Chandigarh-Kullu route then it is also possible to fly from Kalpa to Dalhousie for the same price. What we need are small airstrips across the state that allow at least 20-seater planes to land. With private airlines looking for new skies due to too many players entering the business, there is no doubt that soon these little airstrips will be busy. Or for that matter even helicopter service too would not be bad as a helicopter is already being used to ferry people to inaccessible areas. The government did try to introduce helicopter taxi service but no company came forward to operate under the specified conditions.

The government should understand that some kind of incentive has to be there to at least take off. If roads and bus stands can be constructed on build-operate-transfer basis then even airstrips and helipads can be built that way. It is being done elsewhere in the world, and Himachal can be no exception.

Previous articleWhy not an IIT for Himachal?
Next articleTourist rush in Shimla for Christmas, New Year

No posts to display