Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar slammed Airport Authority of India (AAI) on Monday for its 'irresponsible' statements threatening to close down Jai Prakash Narayan International Airport here apparently on safety concerns there.

"The AAI officials should know that the operations of flights at an airport and related matters are the responsibility of the Centre and not of the state government", he told reporters here.

The state government had on its own trimmed trees around the airport, including at the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, to make flight operations safe. "But it appears that AAI wants to cut all the trees to satisfy its 'whims'", Kumar said.

The Chief Minister said there was paucity of land to expand the length of landing area at Patna airport and acquisition of land was a costly exercise. If AAI provided the funds, the state government was prepared to acquire the required land for expansion works.

The state government had expanded the area of Gaya International Airport, but it was not being used to operate regular commercial flights and only chartered aircrafts and helicopters were landing there.

''The AAI should apply its mind to use Gaya airport to run commercial flights but is threatening to close down operations at Patna airport to hide its own failures", he alleged.

The Chief Minister also lambasted the Centre for rejecting the special status demand for Bihar to tide over economic backwardness. "It is ridiculous that the Centre describes itself as pauper and the states as rich".

Kumar said he would again write to the Centre raising the special status demand and request for setting up a committee of experts to look into it afresh.


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