The newly inaugurated Emergency Landing Field (ELF) on the National Highway-925 in Rajasthan has been built keeping in view the strategic importance as its nearly 40 kms apart from the Pakistan border and could be used for various purposes, said Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari in an exclusive conversation with India TV Editor-In-Chief and Chairman, Rajat Sharma in Aaj Ki Baat.
The emergency landing strip at Gandhav Bhakasar Section of NH-925, south of Barmer in Rajasthan, is the first time that the National Highway will be used for emergency landing of IAF aircraft. It was inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Thursday.
The NHAI had developed an Emergency Landing Facility (ELF) for the Indian Air Force, which is a part of the newly developed two-lane paved shoulder of Gagariya-Bakhasar and Satta-Gandhav Section having a total length of 196.97 km costing Rs 765.52 crore under the Bharatmala Pariyojana.
This project will improve the connectivity between villages of Barmer and Jalore districts located on the International Border.
Speaking in Aaj Ki Baat about the importance of the airstrip, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the stretch being located in the western border area will facilitate the vigilance of the Indian Army as well as strengthen the basic infrastructure of the country as the nearest airport from this region is at a distance of between 300-330 kms.
Nitin Gadkari said the Emergency Landing Field or the airstrip could be used for air ambulances as during the Covid times, challenges such as lungs, heart transplants were faced, therefore, such airstrips could be used for emergency purposes.
For the defence forces, the air-strip may be used for refuelling the jets so that they can be launched for operations from the airbase, situated at a distance of approximately 300 kms.
Speaking about challenges faced during the construction of the emergency landing field, Nitin Gadkari said at first the road ministry said that they had no mandate of constructing airstrips. The minister mentioned that he told them to construct roads which can take more load and they did the job. Though it costed an extra Rs 10-12 crores and eventually it was done.
On this highway, 3 helipads have also been constructed.
Sharing future development plans, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said they are constructing around 450 helipods at various highways across the country that can be used for landing drones as well. These will be part of roadside amenities.
Speaking more about airstrips which will be constructed on other highways as well, Nitin Gadkari mentioned that with the advancement of technology, now you can control air traffic using a small equipment, adding that around 20 highways in the future will see such airstrips.
Responding to whether these airstrips are time-consuming, the Union Minister said that in future, they would be able to construct them in a months time.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said it was like a dream coming true watching this airstrip finally being inaugurated. He shared that he asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi whether to go ahead with this project to which he replied yes, why not off course.
The Union Minister further added that Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria also said that the emergency landing strip has been constructed well. He said it is smooth than their own airstrip.
Speaking on future vision and upcoming highways, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari confidentially said that people will be able to travel between Delhi-Jaipur in 2 hours in about 6 months time, Delhi to Dehradun in 2 hours in about 1.5 years times, Delhi to Haridwar in 2 hours in about 1.5 years time, Delhi to Chandigarh also in 2 hours in 1.5 years time, Delhi to Amritsar in 6 hours time in about 1.5 years, Delhi to Mumbai in 12 hours time in 1 year time, Chennai to Bengaluru in 2 hours in 1 year time.
Another project which he mentioned was from Pithoragarh to Mansarovar by April next time. He said it is 80 per cent complete.
The Union Minister also shared his vision of an electric highway where buses and trucks will be designed to run using electric cables and regarding which talks are underway with a company though nothing has been finalised. The first model project could come up between Delhi-Jaipur.