Virbhadra seeks expansion of Shimla, Kullu airports

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Tuesday raised the issue of expansion and modernisation of Shimla and Kullu airports with Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh here.

He demanded that the length of the Shimla airport runway be increased by at least 600 feet so that bigger aircraft could land there safely, an official statement said.

The chief minister sought adequate budgetary support for the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for restoring the original length of the runway, which had been whittled down to 3,800 feet from 4,100 feet due to soil erosion.

Virbhadra Singh said ATR aircraft cannot take off with a full load from the present runway.

Noting that the AAI has drawn up a plan to restore the original length of the runway, he offered infrastructural and other assistance for the restoration.

He also demanded allocation of funds from the union ministry for the expansion of the Kullu airport near the picturesque tourist resort of Manali.

The chief minister also raised the demand for the construction of an airport at Kaza in Lahaul-Spiti district on the pattern of the Leh airport.

He said the airport at Kaza would be more viable both economically and technically in comparison to Leh airport. Besides it would also boost tourism in the tribal and snow-bound areas.

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