Monday, 5 September 2016

Good News - Finally Land Acquisition for Bagdogra Night Landing Facility Complete - Says Minister

Minister Gautam Deb yesterday said the land required for installation of Instrument Landing System at Bagdogra airport would be handed over to the Airports Authority of India as five families who were refusing to vacate their plots had agreed to accept the compensation.
"There are some families who own a part of the land required for installing the ILS. They have agreed to accept the compensation from north Bengal development department against the land they own. We would hand over the land to the Airports Authority of India and hope the ILS would be operational at the airport soon. The compensation, as far as we know, would be paid to the families by next Friday," the tourism minister told a news conference here this afternoon."
Installation of the ILS - required to help flights in landing and take off during inclement weathers and when there is poor visibility-has been held up at Bagdogra as the state could not provide the necessary land to extend the runway and install approach lights, which is a part of ILS, and guide flights to align with the runway.
In Bagdogra, once the AAI is given the land, it would in turn hand over the plot to the Indian Air Force that will install the ILS under its Modernisation of Air Fields of India (Mafi) programme.
In total, 24.16 acres of land are required for the ILS and of them, 9.97 acres are with the IAF. Of the remaining 14.19 acres, the state has already taken over 12.91 acres. This leaves 1.28 acres, of which 1.16 acres are owned by five families. There is a temple in the remaining 0.12 acres of land.
There were some encroachers on the 12.91 acres but the state has rehabilitated them at another location after paying them money.
"However, the problem was with these five families who were not ready to accept the compensation offered by the state government. They were not encroachers and owned the land. The district administration has even written to the state, seeking approval to buy the land from these people. It seems there has been a new development and that is why the minister made the announcement," an administrative source said.
A senior official of Darjeeling district administration, when asked about the minister's remarks, said: "The north Bengal development department is buying the land and most of the details have been finalised. As far as I know, the process of selecting legal heirs to the landowners, who will receive the payment, is in progress."
He could not furnish details of the compensation that would be paid to these families. The Telegraph could not verify independently as to whether the five families had agreed to give up their land after accepting the compensation.
As there was delay in handing over the 14.19 acres, the IAF had started the task of installing the ILS in a truncated way in June this year.
"As of now, a flight needs at least 2,100 metres of visibility at Bagdogra. Once the CAT-II ILS is introduced completely, visibility of only 350 metres would be required. Since the ILS is commissioned the way we plan to, visibility will come down to 1,000 metres," the airport director had said then.
The required visibility of 350 metres will be ensured only after approach lights were installed over a stretch of 900ft ahead of the existing runway. "As the state government is yet to provide us with land to build the extra runway of 900ft, we are putting the lights only over the stretch of 1,500ft. That is why the required visibility will not come down to 350 metres but up to 1,000 metres only," said an AAI official. Under ALS, there are approach lights ahead of the runway (900 ft in case of Bagdogra), then there are lights on both sides of the runway and also along the central line of the runway up to a definite distance (1,500 ft in case of Bagdogra), followed by lights only on both sides of the runway till the end of the runway.
Told about Deb's statement yesterday, an official of the AAI said: "We are aware that 12.91 acres are cleared and the state can hand it over to us any time. But we need the remaining 1.28 acres and have requested the officials of district administration to hand over the entire plot together. Work of the ILS is likely to finish by September 30."
The tourism minister also said today that a meeting had been convened at Uttarkanya on September 19 with regard to the airport.