Centre sets June 2025 target for Bagdogra airport revamp
The Centre has set a June 2025 target to finish the expansion work of Bagdogra airport, Union minister for civil aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia said at the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
The minister, in reply to a question made by Darjeeling BJP MP Raju Bista — the airport is located under his constituency — has in writing stated that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) planned to start work by December this year.
“After obtaining various clearances from nodal departments, the work will commence in December 2022 with probable date of completion in June 2025,” Scindia said, adding that the AAI planned to develop the civil enclave at Bagdogra airport at an estimated cost of Rs 1,884 crore.
“We are thankful to the minister for allocation of the funds for development and expansion of the airport. It is located at the gateway of north Bengal, Sikkim and the eastern Himalayan region and has immense potential for growth. As the Centre is giving due attention to the airport, we are confident that the airport’s expansion will help in the progress of the region,” said Bista.
For over a decade now, the demand to expand the airport’s infrastructure was raised time and again from various quarters, especially because of the steady rise in number of flights and inflow of passengers.
The existing airport, sources said, can handle around 7.5 lakh passengers a year. In the past fiscal, close to two million passengers have moved through Bagdogra airport.
The inadequate infrastructure leads to inconveniences for passengers, long queues at entry gates and packed crowds at the security hold area.
On Thursday, over 4,500 passengers moved through the airport and there were 42 flight movements.
“Seven flights were cancelled today (Thursday). Otherwise, the number of passengers would have been higher. This indicates the pressure on the airport,” said a source.
On March 16 this year, the state government handed over 100 acres to the Centre. On April 14, the tender for the preparation of a master plan and expansion work of the first phase was floated by the ministry.
“Bagdogra airport is strategically very important. That is why it seems the Centre wants to finish the work within the next three years,” said an ex-serviceman.
According to the plan, a series of new infrastructure would come up at the airport. Among these include aircraft parking bays, taxiways, terminal, fire station, apron control tower, security cabins, watchtowers, navigation aids building, car parking space sewerage system, sewerage treatment plant, approach road and internal roads.
Md Amir and Md Shahjahan, residents of Kishanganj in Bihar, were intercepted by CISF personnel for trespassing in the airport on Thursday. The duo entered the airport without authorisation and were found clicking photographs. Later, they were handed over to the Bagdogra police station. Police filed a case and are trying to find out their intent behind entering the airport.