From the Buffalo-hit on the runway of Surat Airport, apart from the death of the bovine, fortunately the incident went without any human casualty. However, the aftermath of the incident, the first administrative casualty took place in the form of the APD - Dr S D Sharma being sacked on the grounds of dereliction of duty.
The news spread a ripple of mixed response in the city. As many rightly feel since the APD - Airport Director, was the person directly in charge of the well being & safety of Surat Airport, he deserved it.
However a large section of the citizens, strongly believe that the APD was a 'victim' of bureaucracy and was made a scapegoat by his superiors. It is said that the repairs and maintenance matters were reported by the APD at the highest level at the Mumbai Regional Office, since the Surat Airport falls under their jurisdiction but were ignored by A K Sharma the immediate boss of APD.
This local dissidence & the ignored higher ups hence now had a common enemy in the form of APD. As part of this conspiracy the APD was asked to come to Delhi office on pretext of some official work and in his absence a buffalo was let lose during the dusk hours, by his unhappy subordinates and resulted into an infamous incident to show the 'inefficiency' of the APD and adding a blemish to the sparkle of the diamond city.
The other theory that is also taking rounds is that the files were purposely not being sanctioned and buried under dust because of political reasons, obviously Mumbai not wanting to share its glory with Surat which could take away their business and their importance as a commercial airport; since majority of the business to Mumbai airport is provided by Gujarat and Gujarati businesses which have offices in Mumbai and travel and carry their exports from the Mumbai Airport, could get diverted to Surat. Hence development of Surat Airport was purposely curbed. The buffalo incident was an incident that was just in the waiting to happen and actually came for them as a boon in disguise. The wounded egos struck, exactly when it was right for them to hurt the person who bypassed them and also kept the unionized employees happy too.
One 'buffalo' & one too many kills.
Though many even feel that since he was not even present on duty on the day of the incident he is not responsible, while many may say that why was he out of his office while his airport remained 'wide' exposed to such an eventuality.
NO matter what, there remains a very pertinent question and raises serious doubts and exposes the callous approach towards the safety & security of the Airport premises and hundreds of passenger lives. Was the APD totally unaware of the wide open periphery of the airport...?? Seriously.....????, no one never, ever noticed a buffalo within the airport premises...??? While there has been several complaints by the airlines to the APD that there have been incidents of stray dogs being on the runway, wasn't the ATC totally unaware of such incursions by the animal kingdom....??? Or did they ignore it or not report it, just because the APD would have asked them to fix it as a task master and would end up 'work' for them....??
NO. One does not believe so and also hopes that these were not the reason too.
So the question that comes to one's mind is; was it so difficult to repair barbed wire fencing at the local level, with the help of their own salaried maintenance staff or for that matter even out sourced....??? If it is true that the APD had managed doing tasks at local level bypassing the higher authorities, then how difficult was it for him to get a task done at his own level, which had a major security concern, even if it was not being approved by his higher up ...??
Why is the APD not bringing out the proof/documents in the public domain proving that he actually had the files put with the BOSS and yet they were gathering dust at the Mumbai Office since months....??
Assuming that his face saving should be as much important as his job, not only should he come clean but also expose the "REAL" culprits. By not doing this he not only becomes an accomplice to the callous system but he leaves behind a legacy of an unsafe airport in the hands of the inefficient persons and hence further endangers the life and security of hundreds of flyers and airline & airport property.
What is not spoken openly by the media or any of the responsible authorities is a major hazard of the airport being a sitting duck in the event of 26/11 like incident. They ALL know that their hands would be soaked in blood in case such a tragedy were ever to happen and hence the blame game is on, which evidently which they are very good at.
We do not know whether the APD was directly responsible for this infamous incident but we surely know that he was NOT the ONLY person responsible for it. While one has been 'punished' there are many responsible faces that remain hidden & unpunished.
On the other hand the same saying "પાડા ને વાંકે પખાલી ને ડામ " applies perfectly for the city of Surat too.
- Normal meaning at the helms of the Airlines itself which is struggling with financial losses & having more than 40 pilots resigning in a very short span ..?? or
- Normal meaning at the Surat Airport with the NEW APD...?? or for that matter
- Normal at the administrative level of Airport Authority Of India....??
While all these questions and many more, remain unanswered one thing remains absolutely clear:- As far as the Air Connectivity is concerned, isn't it truly a Vindication of the point that Surat City has been Victimized again....??
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