Lack of air connectivity coming in the way of tourism promotion : CM

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Tapovan (Dharmshala) Dec 15
Himachal Pradesh Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur stated in the state assembly on Wednesday that a time would come when state tourist destinations will witness more influx forgetting even, Kashmir after improvement in Airconnectivity.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur giving a suo moto  statement in State assembly.
” Air connectivity remains a major hurdle in promotion of  tourism and hospitality industry in Himachal. ” he said that he appeals and soughts support of all the MLAs in the Vidhan Sabha as state is proposing an international airport at Balh in Mandi district.
Chief Minister said that it will also prove beneficial in terms of employment opportunities and better connectivity for the coming generation. Thakur cited the lack of road and rail connectivity to the state’s tourist destinations and that the state has three small airports, but the fares are so expensive that people to travel.   He said that in such a situation, the extremely expensive airfare prevents tourists from coming here.
“The cost of air travel to Shimla, Kullu and Gaggal airports in Kangra is higher than traveling to Dubai and other foreign countries.”  The Chief Minister said “This is not my personal project, but the project is being implemented for the benefit of the local people as well as the tourists.  As of now, only OLS survey and LIDAR survey of the airport has been done, which has given green signal for the construction of the airport,”
Thakur said the state government had taken up the issue with the Central government, the finance commission and the planning commission, which had sanctioned Rs 1,000 crore for the construction of a greenfield airport at Mandi.
“If we are able to build the airport, tourists will choose Himachal as their favorite destination and they will forget Kashmir by seeing the natural beauty of the Himalayas,” he said.
Earlier, State Jal Shakti and Revenue Minister Mahendra Singh Thakur told the Assembly that the site for the construction of the airport at Mandi has not been finalized yet.   Revenue Minister Mahinder Singh Thakur blamed Singha and his party for increasing the resistance among the people to oppose the airport.
He also said that all the MLAs should support the government’s initiative as it would not only boost tourism in the state. Besides, process of acquisition of private land has not even been initiated, so the question of displacement of families does not arise at this stage.
He said that after the completion of the process of land acquisition and social impact assessment study, the exact details of the families to be affected and the price compensation could be worked out.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, Chapter-III, Section 10(2) provides for acquisition of multi-crop land in exceptional circumstances for any public purpose.  However, the provisions would not be applicable in case of projects which are linear in nature.
In the question hour CPI(M) MLA Rakesh Singha, CPM MLA raised the issue of displacement of large numbers of Farmers and he urged the government to not ruin the local residents.
He said that Goverment has proposed to construct Airport by acquiring private lands and investing Public money to hand over the Airport for operation to private houses without being levying and charging anything in return.  Singha said that the government should also protect the interests of those who would be displaced by the project and wanted to know whether the airport would be constructed by a private agency.

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