Boost to NE air connectivity infrastructure


GUWAHATI, MAY 4: The Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Airports Authority of India have chalked out a road map for spreading the wings of air connectivity in the Northeast. The policy initiatives taken by the Government through Open Sky Policy, Act East Policy, Route Dispersal Guidelines and the budgetary support by the Ministry of DoNER have ignited the infrastructure development in the aviation sector, which is likely to set the pace of economic growth in the region thereby, reducing the gap in economic prosperity of Northeast region compared to other regions. The Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Airports Authority of India have drawn up long term and short term policies for improving air connectivity in the North East and the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Home Affairs is of the view that the short term projects should be completed within the stipulated time frame to ensure that there is no cost overrun.
The long term policies include up-gradation of the operational airports and operationalization of the existing non-operational airports depending on the traffic demand and other operational requirements. The Government of Meghalaya has also proposed to handover its non-operational airport at Tura (Baljek) to Airports Authority of India to develop it for ATR-72 type of aircraft operations. In this regard, a draft MoU for taking over of the airport by AAI has been forwarded to the State Government for acceptance.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), in pursuance to National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016, has launched Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS-UDAN) in October 2016 to promote regional air connectivity in the country including Northeastern region and creating additional infrastructure by revival of un-served and underserved airports and airstrips.
The report of the standing committee said that a new Greenfield Airport has been constructed at Pakyong, Sikkim at a cost of Rs 553 crore which is suitable for operation of ATR-72 type of aircraft with apron, terminal building etc. The Airports Authority of India has taken up the proposal for setting up a Greenfield Airport at Hollongi, Itanagar which can be used by A320 type of aircraft. The Hollongi site for development of new Greenfield Airport has been approved by the State Cabinet of Arunachal Pradesh. The Airport Authority of India has already started preparation of Detailed Project Report and study on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The clearances from the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Finance have already been obtained. Application has been forwarded to the Steering Committee on Greenfield airports for approval. Moreover, the State Government has been requested for details of land acquisition and cost involved for approval of proposal by the MoCA. The infrastructure development works at the airport have been completed and the process for obtaining license from DGCA is in progress. The pending issues include approach road to airport site which has to be constructed by the State Government and land for the Airports Authority of India Residential Colony that has to be given by the State Government.
A proposal to construct Greenfield Airport at Ruzaphema in Nagaland is also under consideration.
The report pointed out that there are 11 Operational Airports, 12 Non-Operational Airports and three Greenfield Airports in Northeast region.
The Committee report revealed that the NEC has taken concerted efforts to provide gap funding for development/up-gradation of airport infrastructure in the region. The revamped Tezu Airport, fully funded by the NEC at a revised cost of Rs. 96.50 crore is ready for operations for ATR 72 type of aircraft with existing renovated old terminal building. The work for construction of new terminal building is in progress and likely to be completed by September, 2018. The nearest airport to Itanagar that is, Lilabari Airport in Assam is now connected to Guwahati Airport as a result of Viability Gap
Funding arrangements with Alliance Air is being initiated by NEC. Work is in progress to upgrade/enhance features in Lilabari Airport.
Meanwhile, 7 Advance Landing Grounds (ALGs) at Along, Walong, Pasighat, Ziro, Tuting, Mechuka and Tawang have been upgraded and made available for dual use operations.
The report said that creation of night landing facility at all the operational airports is another long term strategy. Night landing facilities and clearance for night operation are available for Agartala, Dibrugarh, Dimapur, Guwahati and Imphal airports out of which night operations are on at Agartala, Guwahati and Imphal. (Courtesy: AT)