Srinagar-Banihal NH stretch to double up as landing strip for fighter jets

New Delhi: The government has identified a stretch of the Srinagar-Banihal highway to convert into an emergency landing strip for fighter jets and has invited proposals from consultants for the project, people aware of the development said.

The project—the first in Jammu & Kashmir—is among the 13 emergency landing strips planned by the government on highways across the country.

The Srinagar-Banihal highway landing strip will be 3.5-km long and can be constructed in eight months at a cost of nearly Rs 119 crore, the persons cited earlier said.

This highway is part of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. In February, a militant had rammed his explosivesladen car into a CRPF convoy on this section of the highway at Lethpora, near Pulwama, killing 40 security personnel. Pakistan based militant outfit JeM had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Last March, the government had informed parliament of its intent to set up emergency landing strips—which would be capable of handling all types of aircraft—on highways in various states. Bids had been invited for seven such projects by then, and the one for the proposed Srinagar-Banihal emergency landing strip were called on May 30, as per details with ET.

According to sources, the last date for submission of bids for the Srinagar-Banihal highway is July 16. Another site identified in J&K is the highway between Bijbehera and Chinar Bagh. Bids for this project are still to be called.

As per plan, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu will have two emergency landing strips each, while West Bengal, Odisha and Gujarat will have one each.

The sites have been jointly identified by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). (ET)

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