KHADC officials make extortion demands : AAI to court

Shillong,July 12: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) on Monday told the High Court of Meghalaya that the officers of the Khasi Hills Autonomous Council (KHADC) make extortion demands thereby affecting its functioning at Umroi Airport.

During the hearing of the pending PIL, the AAI pointed out that there is considerable difficulty in even supplies being sought for the small airport at Umroi since bidders are required to obtain a trade license to be eligible even to bid.


“It has also come to light that the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council under whose jurisdiction the airport at Umroi operates, imposes arbitrary license fees and certain officials make extortionist demands”, the court observed.

Complaints  have been made by the AAI to the state government, but to no avai, the court said.

The court pointed out since the authority of the KHADC to seek license fees has been called into question, the Council is added as a respondent. “Advocate for the state will furnish the particulars pertaining to the added respondent so that the appropriate amendment can be carried out in course of the day. The added respondent should be forwarded a copy of this order so that it may be represented on the adjourned date”, the court said.

Not many takers for EoI

The state reported that despite an Expression of Interest from the general public being sought and the time for receiving responses thereto being extended, only a few responses have been received by or about July 6, which the state government is yet to process.

The state sought time to report on the matter.

Essential to obtain land 

It was submitted on behalf of the AAI that the exercise of inviting offers may not yield any fruitful result since the statpe has to identify suitable areas in consultation with the AAI before negotiating with the owners of the land and take steps for outright purchase or for acquisition in accordance with law.

Additional Solicitor General appearing for AAI submitted that it is essential to obtain land to ensure that there is a full-fledged airport to service the state and which will cut the travelling time between Guwahati and Shillong.

He asserted that the development of an airport will lead to several ancillary businesses coming up and will be a boost for economic development in the state, including its fledgling tourism industry.

No land for central bodies 

The  ASG casually indicated that several other  central orgainsations or PSUs operating in the state have requested the government for additional land, whether it be the Assam Rifles or the BSF or even the Indian Oil Corporation Limited, but the state has not taken any steps in such regard.

“Indeed, if the Central Armed Police Forces, particularly Assam Rifles which has its headquarters in Shillong, requires land to set up a protective battalion to guard its headquarters, adequate land within the vicinity of Shillong may be identified and the state should consider taking positive steps in such regard.

Larger bottling plant needed 

Further, though the IOCL is in the process of setting up a small bottling plant for LPG in Ri-Bhoi, if a larger bottling plant for its petroleum and related products could be set up, it would enure to the benefits of the state in taxes therefore accruing to the state instead of being earned by the neighbouring states from where the petrol and diesel are carried by tankers into filling stations in the state.

“However, at the end of the day it is for the state government to take a call. If the administration does not want development or is not proactive in such regard which may create job opportunities for the residents in the state upon ensuring that the ecological balance and the environment are not disturbed to any great extent and the court cannot have an agenda of its own to force development down the administration’s throat”.

State should decide on land 

It is a matter of policy that the state has to decide on and as to what, in the administration’s opinion, may be best suited for the state and its residents, particularly keeping in mind the growing aspirations of the more educated young citizens, the court said.

“It is hoped that the state will find appropriate measures to identify and obtain the land needed for a proper airport, if the state desires that such a project be undertaken. Or, at any rate, the futile exercise of inviting offers may be stopped and no further expenses incurred in such regard. Let the matter appear a fortnight hence for the state to indicate its considered opinion whether it needs or wishes to have a bigger airport or the economic development that is lacking here”, the court observed.

The matter will come up for hearing again on August 1.

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Kindly Disable Ad Blocker