Don’t get alarmed! There is indeed a plan to convert the erstwhile Behala flying club to a full-fledged airport that can cater to small aircrafts.
Apparently the cost of conversion is not much because a minimum infrastructure was already there. The runway is presently 3500 ft long, and needs an extension by 1000 ft, which will enable small commercial aircraft to land and take-off. The proposed extension will need about 30 acres of land that has to be acquired.
Yesterday the union civil aviation minister inaugurated the newly opened Camellia group’s pilot training institute there. Currently, the tarmac is being re-laid, boundary walls being re-erected, and high altitude lights being set up – all these at a cost of Rs.10 crore.
The AAI (Airports Authority of India) that owns the Behala facility is ready to spend another Rs.50 crore to construct air-traffic control tower, passenger terminal building, and other necessities once the extra 30-acre land is available. On its part the government will arrange amenities like road infrastructure, power and water supply to the airport.
If you ask me the biggest problem will be decongesting Diamond Harbor Road, the main artery that will connect the airport with the rest of the city.
As of now, the arterial road resembles nothing short of an utter chaos under vice-like grip of 3-wheel monsters unruly private buses, and hawkers ruling on the pavements.