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Plea for airport upgrade

Agartala, Feb. 26: The Tripura government has made a fresh appeal to the Union ministry of civil aviation to upgrade the Agartala airport to an international facility with regular air connectivity with Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh.

The government has also requested the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to begin construction of the new terminus of the Agartala airport. Apart from this, the government has also requested the ministry to revive the airports at Khowai, Kamalpur and Kailasahar and launch internal air service in the state.

Replying to a question in the Assembly today, transport minister Manik Dey said the smaller airports at Khowai, Kamalpur and Kailasahar had been launched during World War II alongside the airport in Agartala but now they are not in use unlike Agartala.

He said the state government has been demanding an upgrade of the Agartala airport and revival of the abandoned airports at Khowai, Kamalpur and Kailasahar for a long time. A meeting for the purpose was held in June last year by chief minister Manik Sarkar with AAI chairman and the secretary of the Union ministry of civil aviation.

“This meeting had asked the AAI to prepare a revised masterplan and a project report on construction of a new terminus building,” Dey said.

A second meeting was held with the state government by the executive member, planning, of AAI and in this meeting, the state government accepted the masterplan.

The minister also said the then district magistrate (West) Kiran Gittye had acquired 72 acres of land for the new terminus building and it was recorded in the name of the Airports Authority of India.

On the three abandoned airports, the minister said the ministry had sent a masterplan for revival of Kailasahar airport, which has been accepted by the state government.

For the revival of Kamalpur airport, an additional 50 acres of land is required and the ministry has been requested to cut down on the requirement of land and build an airport which will be fit for small aircraft.

“The ministry is not in favour of reviving the Khowai airport as the town can be reached quite fast from Agartala by road. So we have requested the ministry to build a modern helipad in place of the airport and hand over the remaining land to the state government,” Dey said.