The Meghalaya government is waiting for the feasibility report on whether bigger aircrafts can operate from Umroi Airport in the state.
Minister in-charge Transport Sniawbhalang Dhar said, “The new consultants have requested us to give them two months’ time (to submit the feasibility report).”
“When they submit the report only then we can take a call,” he added.
“We want to make this present airport eligible for big aircraft. If the final report is not feasible then we will examine the matter on how to go forward,” Dhar said.
“Now the consultant is how to make bigger aircraft land and we have to wait for the report and then we will consult how much extra land needed and then we will go for additional land for expansion,” he added.
He informed that earlier the land acquisition was for removing the two hillocks (which are said to be obstacles for bigger aircrafts to land at the Umroi Airport). “However, we have kept it in abeyance because the cost was too high (for cutting off the hillocks),” he said.
On August 10, this year the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has informed that a survey will be conducted at the Umroi Airport to ascertain the feasibility for wider-bodied aircraft than ATR and Bombardiers to operate from the airport.
The order in regards to a PIL passed by the Meghalaya High Court had then said, “The Airports Authority reports that at the initiative of the State and in conjunction with the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation, a sophisticated survey of the area around Umroi Airport is proposed to be conducted to ascertain the extent to which the existing facilities can be extended and whether it may at all be feasible for wider-bodied aircraft than ATR and Bombardiers to operate from the airport.”
According to AAI, the LiDAR (light detection and ranging) survey will, probably, have to be outsourced and the AAI is taking appropriate steps in such regard.
The order had said, “Since this is a positive development and the State has made its intention clear, not only for one or more bigger airports, but also to be able to have an international airport within the State, it is hoped that all concerned explore the possibilities to ensure that with the latest technology an airport befitting the State, with international connections, may be available in Meghalaya.”
“Apart from anything else, the colossal loss occasioned to the nation for the travel between Guwahati and Shillong, may be cut down if a bigger airport is available closer to Shillong,” it added.
Meanwhile, Dhar informed that the government is also in the process of expanding the Garo Hills’ Baljek Airport but “as of now it is a bit slow”.