Emergency runways planned on Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway

The state government, which is constructing a six-lane expressway between Mumbai and Nagpur, plans to develop three special stretches on the highway where aircraft can make emergency landings for rescue operations during a calamity or a major accident.

Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has asked its consultants to identify sections on the highway that can be used as a runway. A normal runway is at least 5 km long, and there can be no obstructions (electricity or mobile towers) in its vicinity.

The Uttar Pradesh government has created such emergency runways on the six-lane Yamuna Expressway between Lucknow and Agra. In May last year, the Air Force landed a Dassault Mirage 2000 on the expressway near Mathura, a first in the Indian aviation’s history.

Germany, South Korea, Finland, Switzerland and Singapore have dedicated highway stretches where aircraft can land during emergencies.The 710-km Mumbai-Nagpur expressway is being built at a cost of Rs 30,000 crore. “We are preparing a detailed project report whose terms of reference include identification of five potential runway spots. The plan is to develop three of them,” said Radheshyam Mopalwar, MSRDC’s vice-chairman and managing director.

The expressway will cut the travel time between the two cities from 16 hours to just six, and government officials hope the project will also unlock the industrial-development potential of drought-hit Marathwada and Vidarbha.During the ‘Make in India Week’ in Mumbai, a number of companies had said they would set up industries in the two regions if the road connectivity with Mumbai was improved. The regions attracted nearly 20 per cent of the Rs 8-lakh crore investment commitments for the state.

According to a government official, such massive investment in the regions could create 30 lakh jobs is sectors such as defence, auto, IT, textile, housing, agriculture, railways and infrastructure.

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