Rajnath, Gadkari inaugurate emergency landing facility for Indian Air Force in Barmer, Rajasthan
New Delhi, September 9, 2021
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari jointly inaugurated an Emergency Landing Facility (ELF) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) on the Satta-Gandhav stretch of National Highway (NH)-925A near Barmer in Rajasthan today.
The two Ministers travelled to Barmer on a C-130J aircraft to inaugurate the facility.
They also witnessed aircraft operations on the ELF, which has been constructed in just 19 months by GHV India Pvt. Ltd. under the supervision of the IAF and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
An official press release said this is the first time that a National Highway has been used for emergency landing of IAF aircraft. The landing strip will be able to facilitate the landing of all types of IAF aircraft.
In his address, Rajnath Singh lauded the IAF, NHAI and the private sector for joining hands in completing the construction of Emergency Landing Field in 19 months despite the COVID-19 restrictions. It was a great example of coordination among multiple departments & Ministries, the private sector and Civil & Defence, he added.
He described the landing of the IAF aircraft on the 3-km stretch as a historic new strength of New India, as it coincides with the 75th year of Independence and 50th year of India’s victory in the 1971 war.
He described the ELF near the International Border as a shining example of the Government’s commitment to protecting the unity and sovereignty of the nation. “This highway and landing field will further cement the basic infrastructure along the western border and strengthen national security. Such emergency fields will provide more edge to the operational and civil assistance of our forces. It will also play a crucial role in facing natural calamities,” he said.
Rajnath Singh commended the Armed Forces for displaying the same level of courage, dedication and promptness during natural calamities as they show when they face their adversaries. He lauded the Indian Air Force for playing a central role in dealing with the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He reiterated the Government’s resolve to bolster the network of roads and highways across the country, with the focus on constructing emergency landing fields at strategic and important places. The continuous construction of roads, highways and bridges across the country reflects the Government’s commitment to nation-building. “The roads and highways projects being undertaken by our government have proved that defence and development are not two separate entities. Both complement each other,” he added.
Saying that the development of border areas was one of the top priorities of the Government, Rajnath Singh highlighted the crucial role played by Border Roads Organisation in strengthening border infrastructure. The inauguration of Atal Tunnel, Rohtang and construction of highest motorable road in the world at 19,300 ft at Umlingla Pass in Eastern Ladakh were some such examples, he said.
Referring to the Cabinet’s approval to procurement of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft for IAF, he said the decision was a big step towards "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the aircraft would be manufactured under the "Make in India" initiative.
Gadkari said similar Emergency Landing Facilities would be developed at 19 other places to strengthen the country’s security.
These included Phalodi – Jaisalmer road and Barmer – Jaisalmer road in Rajasthan, Kharagpur – Balasore road in West Bengal, Kharagpur – Keonjhar road and near Panagarh/KKD, Chennai in Tamil Nadu, on Puducherry road, in Andhra Pradesh on Nellore – Ongole road and Ongole – Chilakaluripet road, in Haryana on Mandi Dabwali to Odhan road, near Sangrur in Punjab, on Bhuj-Naliya road in Gujarat and on Surat-Baroda road, in Jammu and Kashmir on the Banihal-Srinagar road , Leh/Nyoma area in Assam and on the Jorhat-Baraghat road, near Sivasagar, Bagdogra-Hashimara road, Hashimara-Tezpur route and Hashimara-Guwahati road in Assam.
The NHAI has developed the three-kilometre section as an ELF for Indian Air Force. It is part of the newly-developed two-lane paved shoulder of Gagariya-Bakhasar and Satta-Gandhav Section having a total length of 196.97 kilometres and costing Rs 765.52 crore under Bharatmala Pariyojana. The work commenced in July 2019 and was completed in January 2021.
The project will improve connectivity between villages of Barmer and Jalore districts located on the international border. The stretch located in the western border area will facilitate the vigilance of the Indian Army and strengthen the basic infrastructure of the country. During normal times, the ELF will be used for the smooth flow of road traffic.
Apart from the Emergency Landing Strip, three helipads have been constructed in Kundanpura, Singhania and Bakhasar villages under this project as per the requirements of the Armed Forces.
Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D & Chairman, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) G Satheesh Reddy and other senior central and state government officials were present during the inauguration of the Emergency Landing Facility.