HUBBALLI: , situated just five km from the heart of Ballari, remains underdeveloped and unused at a time when regional connectivity is expanding across the country. Activists are demanding that the be utilised again and serve its purpose.
Sources in the district administration said that the Airport was built during . Since troops were present in the city, the then British government selected the airport as a stopover point. , now Air India, operated an airmail service and passenger service from Karachi to Chennai via back in 1932. JRD Tata had inaugurated the service.
According to activists, the airport remains underdeveloped due to the apathy of the Centre and the state governments.
Hyderabad Karnataka Horata Samiti’s Ballari unit president Sirigeri Pannaraj said the airport is now used for grazing of cattle heads. “When the state government permitted JSW Group to build its own airport in Vidyanagar, people had urged it to develop the existing airport in Ballari which is close to the city. Now, the people of Ballari are forced to travel 30-odd kms to reach JSW airport. Travellers from Ballari are now struggling to reach JSW airport on the lines of their Bengaluru counterparts who find it difficult and time consuming to reach Kempegowda International Airport,” he said.
Pannaraj said the Ballari airport can be developed to accommodate the landing and take-off of small aircraft under the UDAN scheme. “Nothing is impossible if both the state and central governments commit to develop the airport. Earlier, Vayudooth operated services in 1990s. However, the services were withdrawn later. Since then, the airport is not used properly,” he added.
Deputy commissioner Ram Prasath Manohar said the airport is a defence airport. “There is no proposal to develop it as of now. The government will take a call in this regard,” he said.
The airport is sometimes used for take-off and landing of VVIP helicopters. The proposal to develop a new airport near Chaganur, about 15-km from the city, is still pending amidst opposition from farmers. They demand that the Ballari airport be developed instead of building a new airport.
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