The Airport Authority of India (AAI) today submitted to the Meghalaya High Court the pre-feasibility report on the land at Diengpasoh proposed for setting up of the greenfield airport to replace the existing Umroi airport.
According to the AAI report, there are several areas in the surrounding hills at the greenfield site that may have to be levelled. The AAI also stated that it is the job of the State government to undertake the levelling work.
However, the division bench of the High Court observed that the AAI rendered its opinion “in a convoluted sense and without undertaking a more scientific and precise exercise of ascertaining the feasibility of the area, on the basis of topography sheets available from the Survey of India.”
“There is no doubt that the levelling work will involve a huge expenditure which the State may not be able to afford,” the High Court said.
However, Advocate-General Amit Kumar said that the matter will be placed for consideration before both the PWD and the appropriate authorities in the State government.
The High Court also said that the matter for setting up of a better airport for Meghalaya have to be agreed both by the Centre and State government and the court cannot issue any directive if both of them are not keen for the project.
“At the end of the day, it has to be both the State and the Union who have to be on the same page for an appropriate airport to be set up in Meghalaya. The hills here are not as steep or as difficult to maneuver around as the Himalayas to the north and it is more than likely that a full-fledged, independent airport catering to Shillong and able to host wide-bodied aircrafts would give a big fillip to the State. But it is also to be recognised that it is a matter of policy that involves both the State and the Union and, whether or not at the prodding of private agencies in control of nearby airports, if either the State or the Union is not keen, no mandamus can issue in such regard,” the court said.
The High Court also fixed the matter for hearing after eight weeks so that both the State government and the AAI can indicate the progress of the airport proposal. The matter will come up for hearing on March 28.
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