The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Defence nod to Bagdogra upgrade

Siliguri, Jan. 30: The defence ministry has issued a no-objection certificate to the Bengal government regarding the proposed upgrade of Bagdogra airport to international status.

State urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya disclosed this at the third district council meeting of Paschimbanga Vigyan Mancha held at Siliguri College today. “We met the additional secretary and director of the defence ministry over the Bagdogra issue in Delhi a few weeks ago. The talks appear to have been fruitful as they have already written to our chief secretary, stating that they do not have any objection if Bagdogra is upgraded to an international airport,” he said.

The defence nod was required as the Indian Air Force (IAF) shares infrastructure at the Bagdogra air base with the Airports Authority of India.

“To upgrade Bagdogra airport, it is essential to extend and build new runways, a lounge and other infrastructure,” Bhattacharya said. “As we now have the defence clearance, the chief minister will write to the civil aviation ministry, which must play a major role in the whole process.”

The air officer commanding-in chief of the Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal Fali Homi Major, whose area of responsibility covers Bagdogra, said: “We have had discussions with the (Bengal) government. The matter is very much on the agenda.”

Air Marshal Major was speaking to The Telegraph this evening, hours after being named as the next Chief of Air Staff. The final approval of plans for IAF-controlled airports rests with the air force headquarters. When Major moves to the headquarters on March 31 (the day he takes charge), he can be expected to give the Bagdogra plans a boost because he is thoroughly conversant with the issue.

At today’s meet, Bhattacharya spoke of industrialisation and urban development as “two unalienable ingredients of any developing economy”. “In the past 30 years, 35 new towns have come up in the state, reflecting the emergence of the service sector and industries where people no longer depend on agriculture.

Email This Page