Srinagar: – Work for constructing an airstrip at Anantnag on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway has begun. Tension is reigning between India and China on the Ladakh border. It is reported that China is building an airstrip near the border in the Ladakh region. China has even issued war threats to India by flying its fighter jets in the border areas. The importance of the construction of this runway in Kashmir has increased further against this background. This airstrip will be an advantage in case of any emergency in the future on the east and west borders. This is the third airstrip built on a highway in Kashmir.
National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is building an airstrip on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, near the Bijbehara area in the Anantnag district, for the take-off and the landing of fighter jets. Although this airstrip is close to POK, this is not far from the Indo-China border in Ladakh. A senior official informed that this airstrip construction work has nothing to do with the tension on the Indo-China border and the work has been started as per previously sanctioned plan in due course. The officer claimed that after the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country, the lockdown had been imposed and therefore, the work had been postponed.
This is third airstrip being constructed in the Kashmir valley. Before this, similar airstrips have been built in Srinagar and Avantipora. At wartime, the activities of the fighter jets and freight carrier aircraft are hampered if the runway is damaged. The supplies also get affected. In that scenario, this airstrip near Pakistan, as well as China border, can be useful.
The Indian Airforce has identified 21 national highways where the fighter jets can land in case of an emergency. These include even the Mumbai-Nashik highway. Before this, Mirage fighter jets have successfully landed on the Yamuna Expressway near Mathura. Mirage-2000 and Sukhoi-30 fighter jets have landed on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway and taken off in the same action without stopping. Whereas, a freight carrier military jet landed successfully at the Juhu airport in Mumbai.
Experiments of this nature have been conducted on the highways in the United States, Korea, Finland, Switzerland, Poland and other countries including Pakistan. But since the last few years, because of the challenges on the Pakistani and Chinese borders, India has started the development of such emergency airstrips, and the runway at Anantnag in south Kashmir is a part of the same initiative.