NEW DELHI: The Centre is working to develop infrastructure all across the country which will help aircraft — fighters and transport — and helicopters in speeding up movement during peace. For this, the highways will double up as emergency airstrips for military requirements when the need arises.
As per the plan announced recently by Nitin Gadkari, Cabinet Minister for Road Transport and Highways, there will be total of 20 emergency landing field (ELF) and more than 500 helipads and heliports which will primarily cater to the border states along Pakistan and China. The ELFs will be constructed in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Leh (Ladakh), West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Announcing the basic details at the inauguration of the first ELF on National Highway 925A near Barmer, Gadkari informed further that projects were being taken forwards in which help from the Indian Air Force would be sought. “This three km long ELF has been constructed at the cost of 45 crore along with three helipads, as per military requirements, at Kundapura, Singhania and Bakasar villages,” said Gadkari.
These marked out portions will have a building to act as the air traffic control in need and facility for basic refuelling without obstructing the flow of general transport which will be diverted through the service lanes. Of the two more in Rajasthan, the tender for the one planned on the Falodi-Jaisalmer highway will be out soon. Technical evaluation is going on for the one on Barmer-Jaisalmer highway. Further, five will be constructed on highways in Assam, three on highways passing through West Bengal, two in Gujarat, one each in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Ladakh, J&K, Haryana and Punjab.
The ELFs will be specialised sections of the highways constructed to cater to the needs of high pressure and load landing of the fighters and transport aircrafts. According to the minister, there are plans to make between 500-600 heliports across the country which will be used for transport, logistics and medical emergencies like transporting patients or organs for transplantation harvested from the people who lose lives in road accidents.