Kolkata: The Indian Navy is awaiting final clearance from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to use a portion of an airfield in Kolkata to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance of the maritime border with Bangladesh, naval sources indicated on Friday.
According to these sources, the AAI has granted an in-principle approval for using 15 acres of land at the 210-acre airfield at Behala, located to the southwest of the city.
''The AAI has given in-principle approval to the navy for using 15 acres of land of the Behala airfield. We are waiting for the final approval. Unless the land is leased out to us, we cannot set up infrastructure there,'' commodore Brian A Thomas, naval officer-in-charge, West Bengal, told reporters here.
''The MoD (ministry of defence) has now approached the civil aviation ministry. And the AAI has to give the final approval on paper…this is a matter of paper work now,'' he said.
Stating that the international maritime border with Bangladesh was a very sensitive area, Cdre Thomas said the navy wanted to have a round-the-clock surveillance there and Behala airport was ideally suited for operating the UAVs for the purpose.
''We have got a plan in place and the moment the approval will come we will set up the infrastructure there very, very fast,'' Thomas said.