If things fall in line, Uttar Pradesh will soon boast of country’s first road runway, where Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft can land in times of need and emergency.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav Monday gave in-principle approval to IAF to develop a stretch on the ambitious 302-km Lucknow-Agra Expressway as a road runway. The construction work on six-lane greenfield expressway connecting Lucknow to Agra through Firozabad, Etawah, Kannauj and Unnao is already going on and the state has already acquired over 95 per cent of the land required for the project.
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Akhilesh’s nod came after senior IAF officials, led by Air Marshal K S Gill, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Central Air Command, met him in Lucknow.
The IAF officials will now take up with Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority the issue of identifying the stretch that best suits their requirement. The funding for the road runway project will be undertaken by Union Ministry of Defence.
“Uttar Pradesh government has accepted their proposal to develop the first road runway of the country on our ambitious Lucknow-Agra Expressway and will give them all the needed support. The expressway is of six lanes at present but can be expanded to eight lanes in the subsequent years,” chief secretary Alok Ranjan later said.
To avoid future bottlenecks, the state government is already developing the bridges on the expressway as eight lane, he added.
An IAF official, while confirming the meeting, said that it was too early to say that the location has been finalised. The “idea” exists to have a civilian runway to land IAF’s military aircraft in case of “war- like” situation, wherein the non-availability of a military runway can be a problem. “The plan to have road runway exists. We are in the process of looking for such location wherein road runway can be developed..no location has however been finalised,” the official said, adding, “At the moment only one such road runway is under consideration”.
Ranjan, too, said that Ministry of Defence was yet to identify the stretch. “They will conduct a survey to identify the stretch and prepare a detailed project report,” Ranjan said.
It may be mentioned that UP government’s plan to develop an international airport near Agra has remained stuck due to objections raised by IAF as one of the proposed Airport sites will fall under funnel route of IAF base in Kheria area.
Sources said that state government is hoping to find a solution to the existing bottlenecks in development of international airport in western Uttar Pradesh as well.
It was also decided in the meeting that IAF will give training to the state disaster relief force to be established in Uttar Pradesh. After the meeting, Akhilesh also announced that his government will pay Rs 20 lakh to families of such paramilitary forces, who hail from other states but die while performing their duties in UP.