Shimla airport non-functional for past 44 months, still Rs 32 cr spent on maintenance : RTI
SHIMLA- An expenditure of Rs 32.25 crore was incurred by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on maintenance of the Shimla airport at Jubbarhatti even though the flights from this airport are suspended for past 44 months since September 5, 2012.
The AAI spent this huge amount of public money on the airport which included Rs 12.91 crores spent as security expenses on virtually non-functional airport, information procured through RTI revealed.
Devashish Bhattacharya, an RTI activist, said the information further revealed that the employee benefit expenses incurred on 25 employees engaged in the airport was Rs 12.03 crores while the net income from the airport was “zero”.
This manpower could have been better utilized had the Virbhadra Singh government used its clout for getting at least commercial flights resumed from this airport. Repairs and maintenance expenses of the sleepy airport were Rs 1.72 crore.
It is a big failure on the part of the Himachal Pradesh Government which could not activate the Shimla Airport even on the strength of the tourism industry and at present only non-scheduled flights are operating which are is negligible in number.
Interestingly, Gaggal (Kangra) and Bhuntar (Kullu) airports in the state are operational but the people and the tourists coming to Shimla are deprived of air service. Ministers and bureaucrats travel by road to Chandigarh and from there take flight to Delhi which results in avoidable expenditure.
The matter is already pending in the Supreme Court. It has asked the Union government by what time the regular flights from Shimla airport would start operating?