Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has expressed "deep anguish" to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the state government's delay in providing the required land for having a runway end safety area at Calicut airport, which witnessed a fatal plane crash in 2020.
Scindia also said that if the land is not provided to the Airports Authority of India (AAI), then the civil aviation ministry will be left with no choice but to proceed with action to curtail the runway length for safe aircraft operations from August.
The airport at Calicut, also known as Kozhikode, is operated by AAI.
Following the deadly crash of an Air India Express aircraft on August 7, 2020, at Calicut airport, a central government-appointed expert panel recommended that the state government may be requested to provide filled-up levelled land for the provision of Runway End Safety Area (RESA).
The committee had also said that in case the required land is not made available, the runway length should be reduced to provide the required RESA of 240 metres from the ends of the runway strip for undershooting and overshooting of aircraft.
With the required land yet to be handed over to AAI, Scindia has written to Vijayan, expressing "deep anguish regarding the inordinate delay".
In a letter written on June 26, Scindia said the ministry has made tireless efforts to expedite the matter but the lack of prompt actions from the state government "leaves us with no recourse".
The minister noted that provisioning of RESA would take around three years after the land is handed over to AAI.
"...the ministry is left with no choice but to proceed with the necessary action of curtailing the runway length for the safe aircraft operation at Calicut airport from 01.08.2023 unless the land is handed over to AAI immediately," the letter said.
Scindia also said the state government indicated through its letter on January 19 this year that notification for the acquisition of the land has been issued and that the land would be made available by the first week of July.
"However, it has been made to understand that state government will not be in a position to provide the required land before January 2024," the minister said in the letter.
In the August 2020 Boeing plane crash, more than 20 people were killed, including 2 pilots, and several others were injured.
There were 190 people onboard the aircraft, coming from Dubai, that overshot the runway at Calicut airport amid light rain before breaking into pieces.
Currently, only narrow-body aircraft are operating at the airport.
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