Port Blair, Feb. 28:  In the wake of Andaman & Nicobar Command's decision to shut down the flying operations at Port Blair airport for weekly four days w.e.f 01.03.2022 for a period of three months, the Union Home Secretary took a VC meeting today to discuss and find out solutions to ensure uninterrupted air-connectivity to A & N Islands.

The meeting was attended by the Defence Secretary, Govt. of India, the Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Sr. Officers of Ministry of Defence, Chief of Staff, A & N Command, Member (Plg), Airports Authority of India and from the A&N Administration, the meeting was attended by the Chief Secretary, Shri Jitendra Narain and Senior Officers of Civil Aviation Department.

At the very outset, the Chief Secretary pointed out that in the 80 odd years of the history of the Airport where resurfacing is being done every few years, the work was always executed at night and such complete closure for 4 days in a week for executing resurfacing works of Runway has never happened before.

The Chief Secretary appraised that Port Blair airport being the crucial entry and exit point to A&N Islands is very important from connectivity point of view and the decision to shut down the flight operations at Port Blair airport for 4 consecutive days/week (Tuesday to Friday) for a period of 3 months (March, April & May, 2022) would totally disconnect the Andaman & Nicobar Islands from rest of the world and put the Islanders in this geographically isolated Islands 1300 KMs from the mainland at a great difficulty and this would also badly impact the lifestyle, subsistence and the economy of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, especially during the recovery phase of COVID-19 Pandemic.

It was also appraised by the Chief Secretary that due to non-availability of Super Speciality Hospitals in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the local residents are totally dependent on Super Speciality Hospitals located at Chennai, Kolkata & Delhi etc., for tertiary medical care and emergency medical treatment and surgeries. Suspension of flight operations continuously for a period of four days every week would put the lives of critically ill and patients who experience sudden deterioration of health viz., heart attack, brain stroke etc. at the risk of imminent likelihood of loss of life due to inability to access specialized Medical care due to disruption of regular Air Connectivity.

Considering the plight of the people of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, A & N Administration had been requesting review on the proposal of restricting the flight operations.

Summing up the discussion, the Administration requested the Ministry of Defence to consider to review the technical aspects and explore possibility to operate the airport with bare minimal disruption, in the larger interest of the people of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, while keeping the strategic needs in mind.