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Supreme Court raps Govt by asking why no air connectivity to Shimla ?

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016,15:31 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | Taking strong note of lack of air connectivity to Shimla, the Supreme Court today directed the competent authorities to tell it by May 4 whether air services to the Himachal Pradesh capital would be launched and warned of issuing an order if the answer is no.

If ‘no’ is the categorical answer, we will pass an order against those responsible for this, a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said.

The bench also directed the competent authorities, including the Civil Aviation Ministry, to place the copy of direction issued by them before the bench takes up the matter for next hearing on May 4.

It said that its interim order, issued on December 16 last year, shall not prevent these authorities from enforcing the obligation of providing ten per cent of the capacity deployed on Category-I routes (trunk routes) to Category-II routes.

Under the government’s Route Dispersal Guidelines, Category-I routes are the busy routes connecting major metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai, while Category-II are those in remote and difficult parts of the country, including Jammu and Kashmir, Northeast and the island territories. Counsel representing various competent authorities like the Ministry and aviation regulator DGCA said all of them favoured launching of these services.

To this, the bench said we hope there is no political game in this. The apex court had last week taken exception to the lack of air connectivity to places in the North East and Shimla’s Jubbarhatti airport and rapped the government and Air India for promoting interests of private operators.

Is it not part of your policy guidelines to provide services to far-flung places like North East and Shimla, a bench comprising the Chief Justice and Justice R Banumathi had asked, charging the government with only promoting interests of operators and not thinking about connectivity.