Road Transport and Highways Ministry is working on a proposal with Ministry of Defence to construct runways on highway stretches and 22 such spots have been identified across the country. “There are proposals to develop highway stretches in such a fashion that they may double up as airstrips. This will provide connectivity in difficult places,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari told PTI. Gadkari said his Ministry is shortly going to convene a meeting with the Defence Ministry to firm up the proposal.
According to an official, a committee comprising officials of both ministries has been constituted to come out with specifications of such highway stretches which can double up as airstrips. The committee will look into details like feasibility of the stretches, their length and breadth apart from other issues.
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The official said that 22 identified stretches are located in various parts of the country. In August, Gadkari had mentioned about construction of such an airport in Rajasthan and said that similar projects were being planned in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and some other border districts.
In Rajasthan, such an airport could serve as an airstrip for landing and take off when it is closed and traffic can restore later. The government is working on ways to boost regional air connectivity in the country. In new civil aviation policy, the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) has been mooted that provides for various concessions to airlines.
Under the scheme, air ticket prices would be capped at Rs 2,500 for one-hour flights on unserved and under-served routes. There are 394 unserved and 16 under-served airports in the country. As part of the RCS, the government plans to provide a Viability Gap Funding, which would be financed through the Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF).