|Sikkim airport at pakyong|
Gangtok : The first Greenfield Airport will help tourist to reach Sikkim in record time and connect beautiful landlocked state with other parts of country.
Construction of Greenfiled Airport Project at Pakyong is happening at a fast pace. Punj Llyod, a construction company which bagged this 264 cr contract, is committed to handover the project to Airport Autority of India (AAI) by Januray 2012. Company was assigned to work on the construction of runway, apron, drainage system and the electrical work of the Airport.
Greenfield Airport will have a runway of 1.7 km with width of 30m. It will have the Asia’s biggest Geogrid Reinforced Retaining Wall. This wall helps in checking the soil erosion. After completion, airport at Pakyong will be among the top five highest airports in the country. The proposed airstrip would initially cater to smaller turboprop aircraft like the ATR 72s.
Construction at sight is challenging and had faced lot of hitches in past. In October, 2010 workers went on to strike demanding better wages and medical facilities. Heavy monsoon also forced the project to delay for a year. Earlier the scheduled completion date was July 2011 which is now extended to Jan, 2012. But leaving past aside the construction work is making steady progress.
To make sure that monsoon do not play spoilsport this time, various arrangements have been made at the site. Senior Engineer of Punj Llyod, Sagar Ganguly informed isikkim.com that “we are cutting mountains in slopes so that water just drains out. Drainage system is already in place. We have also deployed extra machines and manpower to fasten our work. Even during monsoon there won’t be any halt in work. Just it will get down bit slow”.
Airport at Pakyong will ensure better connectivity of Sikkim with rest of India. It is altogether important with NH31A, only route to connect Sikkim, getting affected because of Gorkhaland agitation. Lukendra Rasailly, President of Travel agent association of Sikkim asserted that “the proposed airport is a boon for Sikkim tourism. We expect growth in high end tourism. Lot of corporate houses will also plan to have their offsite here in Sikkim rather than going outside country. I am sure it will improve the inflow of tourists in state”.
Airport in Sikkim is strategically important for security reasons too. With China building huge Infrastructure on its border, this airport would come handy in mobilizing army. A runway of 1.7 Km length and 30meter width can be extended to 500 m more in length and 120 meters to cater cargo planes and other category planes.
Even if airport is handed to Airport Authority of India (AAI) by Jan next year, it will get functional only by mid 2013. The terminal building, control tower and fire station is yet to be build. Allied works along with final touching would take a year. AAI is in a procedure to invite tenders and engineering consultants for this.
This airport would surely help in bridging the gap between North East and other parts of country. Apart from tourism it will also help in bringing investment in state which is missing even after lot of attractive offers from state government.
As the then aviation minister Praful Patel put it in his words during founding stone ceremony “We should look into bigger thing and even bigger runway should be envisioned. The airport should not be made for today but for the future”. And with Greenfield Airport at Pakyong future seems to be bright