IAF’s helicopter base will not be shifted to Mysuru airport: Pratap Simha

A view of Mysuru Airport at Mandakalli on the outskirts of Mysuru.

A view of Mysuru Airport at Mandakalli on the outskirts of Mysuru.  

The Centre is believed to have dropped the proposal to shift the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) helicopter training division from Yelahanka in Bengaluru to Mysuru airport.

Pratap Simha, MP, who last week had requested the Centre to let Mysuru airport function purely as a civilian facility without any defence establishment, thanked Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday for accepting his request. “I sincerely thank @HardeepSPuri sir for giving heed to my request in deciding not to hand over Mysuru airport to Indian Airforce to make a helicopter air base. It will remain a civilian airport. Thank u all,” he Simha tweeted.

The erstwhile coalition government in the State had appealed to the Centre to shift IAF’s helicopter training division from Yelahanka to Mysuru airport. During his meeting with \then Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu, former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy had urged the Centre to develop Mysuru airport on the lines of the airports in Pune, Chandigarh and Srinagar for both civilian and military purposes.

Mr. Kumaraswamy had even reasoned that the pressure on Kempegowda International Airport Ltd. in Bengaluru would also reduce if Mysuru airport was developed. He had urged the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which operates Mysuru airport, to permit IAF to shift its helicopter base to Mysuru and even gave the State government’s No-Objection Certificate for the purpose.

But, Mr. Simha, who opposed the proposal, made a representation to Mr. Puri on February 6 to let Mysuru airport function purely as a civilian airport without any defence establishment. Referring to IAF’s reported willingness to ‘take over’ Mysuru airport for its helicopter base, Mr. Simha said Mysuru airport was currently witnessing a surge in passenger traffic with the implementation of the Centre’s Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagarik (UDAN) scheme.

He claimed that passenger traffic from Mysuru had increased sevenfold after the implementation of the scheme. “Since Mysuru is known to be the cultural heritage capital of Karnataka, passengers are attracted to the tourism experience of the city,” he said to Mr. Puri. Additionally, Mysuru is attracting industries with the establishment of IT companies and various automotive ventures, he said.

If Mysuru airport was taken over by IAF and converted into a civil enclave, restrictions like ones in place at Pune and Bagdogra airports will have to be imposed, hindering civilian passenger traffic. Such restrictions are needed for safeguarding defence facilities that will be housed at the airport, he said.

Mr. Simha contended that aviation growth in Mysuru was ‘unstoppable’ in view of its tourism and business potential.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 2:10:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/iafs-helicopter-base-will-not-be-shifted-to-mysuru-airport-pratap-simha/article30786024.ece

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