JAMMU: Non-availability of sufficient labour because of COVID pandemic and also shortage of construction aggregate have considerably slowed down the work on much awaited runway expansion at Jammu Airport thus failing the authorities to meet the deadline for completion of the project, which has been now rescheduled to next year even as the Instrument Landing System (ILOS) is likely to be commissioned soon.
Official said that only 60 percent work of the runway expansion has been completed so far as the construction and allied works remained virtually suspended since December last because of non-availability of construction aggregate, thereafter COVID lockdown and then insufficient number of labourers in the unlock period.
Even as base course of the extended runway has been almost completed, work on finishing of major layer, pavement of the sub base course and filling of earth at junction part are pending and it would take around six months for the completion, sources added.
Earlier, June 2020 was the deadline for completion of the project, which has been now extended to March 2021 because of the prevailing bottlenecks in smooth work.
It may be recalled that the work on runway expansion from existing 6700 ft to 8000 ft since mid 2019 and , had to be virtually suspended in December last because of non-availability of construction aggregate like stone and sand due to ban on mining along river beds in Jammu by the Pollution Control Board and the J&K High Court.
Though on recommendation of Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Directorate of Geology and Mining accorded Short Term Permission (STP) in February last for extraction of 5000 MT small mineral, the same was insufficient for the required pace of work. Around 200 truckloads of aggregate material, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, etc was required for carrying out the pending civil works while a minor mineral block comprises only 20 kanal area, which was not sufficient to produce such huge quantity of mined material, sources explained.
Thereafter, lockdown from March 24 because of COVID -19 pandemic completely stalled the work till mid of June after which the Chairman of Airport Authority of India vide communication DO.No. EA-11011(24)/2/2020-ENGG-C, dated July 1, 2020, addressed directly to the Chief Secretary of UT requested for allotment of quarries as special case for stone aggregates, sand and good earth for speeding up the runway expansion work.
Even as the Director Geology & Mining, J&K, in his communication to Divisional Commissioner Jammu vide No. 1116/MCC/DGM/DMO/Jmu/3/2628, dated 29-07-2020, agreed to reserve area for particular department for grant of proper Mineral Concession (Mining Lease/Quary License in their favour on applying the same under provisions of SRO-105 of 2016, shortage of manpower is another reason for slow work as a big number of labourers have gone to their native places because of COVID pandemic.
“Despite the unlock, the construction agency is facing shortage of labourers as well as construction aggregate. Even as the minor minerals are available in raw form following special permission of extraction but because of non-availability of approved crushers, we are now able to get the crushed stone aggregates and sand,” explained the sources, adding that the work was being carried out presently with almost 50 percent of the required number of labourers.
However, the civil works involved for commissioning of Instrument Landing System (ILS) facility for safe landing and taking off the planes at Jammu Airport is almost near completion while installation of the Radar and associated equipments was already in place.
The required 300 meters flat surface concrete platform for front clearance and reading path have been almost constructed, sources said, adding that after procedural approval, which may take around one month, the ILS system is likely to be commissioned by the forthcoming month of October.
Pertinent to mention that Instrument Landing System (ILS) is a standard International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) precision landing aid that is used to provide accurate azimuth and descent guidance signals for guidance to aircraft for landing on the runway under normal or adverse weather conditions. ILS facility is a highly accurate and dependable means of navigating to the runway in IFR conditions. The ILS provides the lateral and vertical guidance necessary to fly a precision approach. When all components of the ILS system are available, including the approved approach procedure, the pilot may execute a precision approach.