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Saturday, November 19, 2011
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Tejgaon airfield gets domestic airport status

Decision strengthens Air Force objection to metro route thru' Bijoy Sarani

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has quietly upgraded the status of Tejgaon airfield to that of a domestic airport, making the air force's objection to the metro rail route along Bijoy Sarani even stronger.

By upgrading its status from a short take-off and landing (STOL) airport, the CAAB, headed by an air commodore, has increased the airport's importance.

The civil aviation authority made the decision sometime between October 16 and 17 this year.

A couple of months ago, the Bangladesh Air Force raised objections to the proposed 19-metre high metro rail along Bijoy Sarani. Arguing that the metro rail would hinder military air operations from the Tejgaon airstrip, it made a plea that the airfield be kept functional.

The BAF also recommended an alternative route along Khamarbari-Farmgate which would affect the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban complex. The prime minister opted for the realignment of the route along the parliament complex in line with the BAF suggestion, a move which drew huge flak from different technical experts.

The experts, among whom are architects, planners and civic activists, termed the BAF stance unfounded on many occasions and strongly argued that the metro rail would not affect the present operations of the airfield. Besides, the airstrip was abandoned in 1988 and its location has been seriously affecting the city's development, they argued.

As these arguments and counter arguments kept heating up along with public sentiment going against the air force's stance, the prime minister in mid-October contacted the leaders of various pressure groups and asked them to hold a dialogue with the BAF to reach a consensus.

Accordingly, a group of professionals and civic activists met the chief of air staff in October to convince him that the metro rail could be built and at the same time the runway would remain functional.

But within two days of the dialogue, the CAAB on its website declared the Tejgaon airstrip a domestic airport by adding it to a list of airports without any formal announcement.

However, its website details on navigational aides, air traffic service and aeronautical communications for air operations in Bangladesh territory make no mention of Tejgaon airfield as an airport.

Requesting anonymity, a director of CAAB said, A domestic airport requires all the technical features and passenger services as an international airport as per rules of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

It was pointed out to the CAAB chief that Tejgaon was a STOL airport and that services required even for a STOL airport were unavailable. The change happened within the following two days, the director said.

In fact, the government shifted all operational activities of the airport to a newly built international airport in 1980, as it could no more serve as an airport.

The private airlines GMG, Parabat and Aero Bengal launched domestic flights from Tejgaon in the late nineties but they too discontinued using the Tejgaon airport. All domestic flights to and from Dhaka are now operated from Shahjalal International Airport.

Domestic operations were moved to Shahjalal as Tejgaon turned obsolete and is located in a densely populated area, said Prof Md Shamsul Hoque, who teaches airport development at Buet.

The BAF and army aviation wing have been using the airfield to fly helicopters (which do not require runways), relief cargo and training planes since the 1980's.

The BAF too moved operations of its fixed-wing fighter planes to Shahjalal International Airport in the mid 1990's, said a retired high-ranking BAF officer.

Air Commodore Mahmud Hussain, chairman of CAAB, could not be contacted for comment despite repeated attempts at his office and over the mobile phone. Group Captain M Saeedul Hasan Khan, member for operations and planning of CAAB, is abroad.

Azad Zahirul Islam, director of Air Traffic Services and Aerodromes, declined to talk on the record.

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This shows how even after 40 years of liberation army is the key factor in major decisions of the country. It is long due that the cantonment is moved out of the DCC.

: Enam

Bangladeshis are just good at creating problems than solving it--it is the mindset of a corrupt mentality. We do not know how to negotiate and accept and move on for the greater good.

: rch


  • Peter Pan
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 12:14 AM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    What a joke! BAF has smoothly arm twisted CAAB to put the much needed metro rail network into jeopardy. What a shame. This will evidently destroy the beauty of our parliament. Shame.

  • Nasirullah Mridha
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 02:20 AM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    The administration already bent under pressure to Air force. To obliterate the JS aesthetic beauty Air force resort to turn this abandoned field into a short time operation field. With accentuate their demand why the government remain deaf of public entreaties for not use JS complex portion of land for Metro rail project?

  • Sheikh Monirul Islam, Opee
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 01:00 AM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    Should we see this as a part of politics or conspiracy? The blame should go to the BAF chief, not the CAAB chief as he is still active in his service holding an Air Commodore rank. Although CAAB suppose to an autonomous body, but its DG has been always from BAF traditionally.

  • Mahboob Hossain
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 08:23 AM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    If there were anybody in the Civil Aviation Authority he or she would have suggest to remove airport from the centre of the city. Civil Aviation authority is simply working as a muscleman. People should be united to resist such crime.

  • A retired Airforce Officer
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 11:17 AM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    Mr Tawfique,do you have any idea how much does it cost to construct an airfield and how many airfields the Bangladesh govt has made since liberation? Are we insane that we want to abandon such a valuable set up in the name of modernisation where other options are open! And why don't you write about the fact that the land in and around Tejgaon airfield area is very good for construction and that's why the real-estate and developers are after this airfield! This is of utter shock to see how far our greed can go and how it can eat up the sense of the media also!

    Saturday, November 19, 2011 11:45 AM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    our main problem is with the POLIOCY MAKERs who are not working effectively, those respected professionals sit in the SECRETARIATE. A good policy infrastructure could make BANGLADESH a upgraded country for sure if they work--DEFINITELY.

  • s. ali
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 11:49 AM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    Our renowned city-planners and intelligentsia should feel ashamed of their 'childishness' regarding their 'wise and farsighted' opinion. Here in Bangladesh the top executive's wish is her command whatever reason dictates. We should behave just as subjects of an emperor. In fact we are being ruled by a Nepoleon, the elected Emperor of France. What or who can dissuade that 'monarch'? Were it a real democracy, govt decision would think thrice before making such a 'Tughluki' decision.

  • Anis Sazzad
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 12:12 PM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    Can't we spend a few million to shift this airport and save the billion dollar metro rail project? Doing so we can get a new airport for BAF with modern amenities as well as some high rises in and around Tejgaon.

  • Shubhro Ahmed
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 01:24 PM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    We will closely watch how many domestic flights are operated from Tajgaon Airport. Where will be the Public Service Commission Office be shifted?

  • Anonymous
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 03:27 AM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    What a sad joke!

  • Ahmed
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 04:26 AM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    As long as the defence portfolio remains in the hand of the Prime Minister armed forces will always get preferential treatment. Because, no one in the cabinet or in party leadership will ever dare to challenge her decision. On the other hand, both Hasina and Khaleda feel insecure in confronting the armed forces whether their demands are justified or not. Even anti-people policies get their endorsements like land grabbing for defence housing or weapons purchase. That's why civil society should raise their voices for appointment of a separate defence minister who would also be accountable to others within the and outside of the party and the government. Also, armed forces' bosses access to the PM for lobbying can be restricted.

  • Mohammed Shah Alam Khan, Canada
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 05:20 AM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    This is unfortunate for the nation. We the people vote for AL and that is why today Hasina became PM but she behaves in such a way that we did not vote her. As if she is elected by the army. Is it true? Is army manipulating the election in December 2008? If not than how come she disagree with the people's demand? When the public sentiment is going against the air force's stance, how can Hasina contacted the leaders of various pressure groups and asked them to hold a dialogue with the BAF to reach a consensus? It means that PM has no power. All power belongs to army! I remember when Air Chief went to Chief Advisor Fakruddin he asked a question that who is driving the country is it me or you! Air chief did not say anything just left without putting any objection on the Bijoy Sarani Road. As per constitution PM is more powerful than Fakruddin (Chief Advisor).

  • Anonymous
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 12:42 PM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    The vested group took chance of political turmoil as they were indifferent to public benefit

  • Anonymous
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 01:42 PM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    We don't want any high-rise there. We want greeneries there. Dhaka city dwellers too need breathing fresh air like cantonment and DOHS areas.

  • Sheikh Monirul Islam, Opee
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 02:50 PM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    The ex-BAF officer has a strong point. Why not see the whole issue in different perspective. We want the whole of the cantonment and the airport to be relocated at different location and commercial value of the land will cover that cost much more than expected. Is it feasible to have a military airport and cantonment write in the centre of a metropolitan city? Don't you think it is strategically wrong too?

  • suman
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 03:50 PM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    We are thinking as a deef, not planning as a deef. Do we know how much does it cost for preparing an airport? It is shamful for our nation that we are thinking airforce as an alien. We must not. This strategic assets will remain for the BAF and whole Banladesh. We must not forget that BAF, Bangladesh Army Aviation is our force which are useful for

    us. Simply comment on this to shift the airport without thinking is unwise. Will the nation be capable to establish such airport? Don't we need more land to establish such airport which will be a great loss for the whole nation. We can build metrorail with the plan of BAF which will not hinder any project. Don't work for builders and deef learned people who does not like to see a strong nationalism.

  • suman
    Saturday, November 19, 2011 03:55 PM GMT+06:00 (204 weeks ago)

    Do you know how much the would govt need to spend for shifting the cantonment. We must think of less expenses for the govt instead of begging from others. Do you know how much armed forces earn for the nation? It is the second highest earning source for Bangladesh. Why do you run after Army instead of running develope the nation? Where can we stand together? Start working for combined development. Don't run after each other.





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