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Delhi Airport Chaos: Shashi Tharoor, Jyotiraditya Scindia Engage in War of Words

Referring to flight delays, Tharoor accused the Aviation ministry of neglect and incompetence.

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India
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Amid flight delays, X (formerly Twitter) witnessed a war of words between Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Context: Amid flight delays in Delhi and various other airports in across India due to the dense looming fog, Tharoor accused the Aviation ministry of neglect and incompetence.

TL;DR: In a long thread on X on Tuesday, 16 January, Tharoor pointed out the delays stating, "Thousands of peoples’ lives and schedules have been disrupted by a regular, predictable, foggy winter day. It’s a Modi government-made disaster, a result of the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s neglect and incompetence." Among other allegations, he listed points like:

  • Late start of runway maintenance work.

  • A crane blocking runway operation

  • Lack of CAT III-C runways (which allows zero visibility landing) in India.

  • Flight delays, passengers having meals on tarmac, and other problems faced by the passengers, etc.

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Replying to his allegations, Scindia posted another thread calling him an "arm-chair critic" and his allegations "baseless rhetoric."

Further, rebutting his points, Scindia said that runway maintenance work got delayed due to "pollution incidents and enforcement of GRAP-IV in Delhi."

"The crane was being used for the construction of another critical infrastructure project - the Dwarka Expressway," he added.

"The two CAT III runways at Delhi Airport are equipped for aircraft to land with minimum visibility of up to 50 meters. However, the majority of the aircraft fleet in India viz. Airbus 320 (75 mtrs) and Boeing 737 Max (175 mtrs) have visibility minima greater than the runway threshold. Thus, even if the runway is capable and sufficiently trained CAT III pilots are made available, these aircraft are not designed for Zero Visibility operations," he said.

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On Thursday, Tharoor posted, "I don't need an "esoteric thesaurus" to respond to JM Scindia's selective rebuttal of my thread yesterday. Some 80,000 passengers had their flights cancelled on January 14th and 15th alone, with lakhs more suffering through incessant delays. It would be prudent for the Honourable Minister to apologise to them for the agony and distress that his Government has caused, enabled, and overseen rather than engage in nugatory name-calling. Mantri-ji, ahankaar chhodo, Janata se maafi maango!"

A day before, Scindia also said Tharoor "someone who is lost in his esoteric world of thesaurus."

Referring to Scindia's point about importance of runway maintenance work, Tharoor questioned why wasn't it started on September 2023 so that it could have been completed before winters.

"The winter fog and "pollution incidents" in Delhi are sadly an annual event that could and should have been planned for — which is exactly what your Ministry failed to do," Tharoor said.

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