Patel word on speedy airport completion - Sikkim hopes for spurt in tourist inflow

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Pakyong
  • Published 1.03.09
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Pakyong, March 1: Union minister of state for civil aviation Praful Patel has said no state can be developed unless there is air connectivity and assured the people of Sikkim that the upcoming greenfield airport here will be completed in two years, for which money will not be a constraint.

The minister was speaking yesterday at the Bhumi Pujan organised by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for the new aerodrome here in East Sikkim, 30km from Gangtok.

The function was attended by governor Balmiki Prasad Singh as the chief guest and presided over by chief minister Pawan Chamling.

“The airport is an important milestone in Sikkim’s connectivity and I congratulate the people of the state for the project. The airport will be completed in time and money will not be a constraint for the construction. I have asked the AAI to see whether the airport can be made bigger than envisaged in the plan as such projects cannot be developed again and again,” Patel said.

The AAI had been entrusted with preparing a detailed project report for the airport for operation of ATR 72 type of aircraft.

The project includes the construction of a terminal building that can handle 100 passengers at a time, a runway, an apron with link taxi-track, a fire station and a technical block-cum-control tower.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs 310 crore.

Punj Lloyd, a construction firm, has bagged the contract to build the airport. “Once the airport is operational, it is expected that the flow of tourists will grow. The airport could also be used for easy and faster transport of goods not only to other parts of the country but abroad as well,” said the minister.

Chamling said once the airport opened, the state that shared border with three countries would usher in a new era of progress and prosperity and open up new vistas of development.

“The airport will also solve problems like road blockades because of landslides during rainy season and disturbances in the neighbouring region. Sectors like tourism and floriculture will get a major boost,” Chamling said.

The chief minister said high-end tourists and pilgrims would be attracted to the state.

The chairman of the AAI, V. P. Agarwal, was also present at the function.