Shimla, Mar 31 (UNI) Himachal Pradesh Tourism and Transport Minister G S Bali today said the Airport Authority of India (AAI) had selected a site at Dhanghu in Mandi district for the construction of an International Airport.
Replying to a question raised by Ramesh Chand Dhawala (BJP), in the assembly, he said efforts were on for the expansion of the existing airstrips so that ATR's and Boeing planes can operate on them.
Mr Bali said besides, selecting a site at Dhanghu, three more airfields would be set up at Amb in Una district, Kunihar-Arki in Solan District and a place between Jawalamukhi-Nadaun in Kangra/Hamirpur district by the AAI.
Giving details of the expansion of airstrips, he said that an amount of Rs nine crore had been sanctioned under the tenth Finance Commission for the extension of Jubbarhatti Airstrip and construction of a road from Taradevi to Kainchi, Jubbarhatti.
He said the airstrip dimension has been increased to 4100 x 100 feet and the roadwork too has been completed.
For the Kullu Airport, an amount of Rs 8.50 crore has been sanctioned out of which Rs 5.58 crore had already been spent on completing new Apron and Taxiway, while work on the New Terminal Building, car park area and construction of Boundary wall was in progress, he said.
The Tourism and Transport minister said the proposed dimension of Kangra Airport was being increased to 4500 x 100 feet for which a budgetary sanction of Rs 10.24 crore had been made under the 10th Finance Commission.
Mr Bali said an amount of Rs 9.13 crore has been utilized by the Airport Authority of India for extension of its runway, resurfacing, construction of new terminal building, apron, taxiway and other associated infrastructure. The work on the construction of standard basic strip, perimeter road, boundary wall around AAI land and airport drainage system were being undertaken, he added.
Replying to Mr Dhumal's supplementary, he said the government has no objection in getting the site investigated, while simultaneously maintaining that the aspect of commercial viability of the site has also to be gauged.
Mr Bali said there was scope for the extension of Gagal airport and a Helicopter service would soon provide connectivity with major airports of Chandigarh, Jullander, Amritsar to various tourist destinations of the state, including the tribal areas.
Leader of BJP Legislature Group, Prem Kumar Dhumal asked Mr Bali to ensure that priceless cultivable land was exempted from the construction of airstrip and instead survey should be conducted on the viableness of airstrip on barren rocky land between Drakta-Bankhandi area.
Replying to a question by Vijai Singh Mankotia (Congress), Power Minister Vidya Stokes said the cost escalation of Larji project was due to significant variation in the original design owing to geological complications and the inadequate equity support from the government.