Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the Pakyong airport, the first in the north-eastern state of Sikkim on Monday. The prime minister had left for the Himalayan state after launching the Centre's flagship Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) from Jharkhand capital Ranchi on Sunday.
"After the programme in Jharkhand I will leave for Sikkim. In Sikkim, I will be inaugurating the Pakyong Airport tomorrow, which will improve connectivity and benefit the people of Sikkim," Modi tweeted on Sunday.
After the programme in Jharkhand I will leave for Sikkim.
In Sikkim, I will be inaugurating the Pakyong Airport tomorrow, which will improve connectivity and benefit the people of Sikkim.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 23, 2018
A local said with the opening of the airport, tourism will get a boost. This airport, the 100th operational airport in the country, will help bring state capital Gangtok closer to air travellers. Earlier, people had to travel to Gangtok from Bagdogra in West Bengal through an uphill 124-km road.
Here are 10 things to know about the airport:
1) The Pakyong Airport is a Greenfield airport 30-km from Gangtok. It is the 100th operational airport in the country.
2) The airport has been built at an elevation of about 4,700 feet.
3) The airport has been conceived at a budget of Rs 605.59 crore.
4) The runway of the airport, built on the mountainous terrain, is around 1.7 kilometres long and 30 metres wide, reports say. A taxiway, an apron, a fire station and a traffic control tower have also been built.
5) The terminal of the airport is spread over an area of 25,000 square feet. It is equipped to handle 100 passengers, 50 each in arrival and departure areas. A car parking area for 80 vehicles has also been built.
6) It will not only promote tourism and open up opportunities for the people of Sikkim but will also provide airlift facility during emergencies and disasters.
7) It has been skilfully engineered to include soil reinforcement and slope stabilisation techniques in context of the altitude.
8) On March 5, the Indian Air Force’s Dornier 228 was tested from Pakyong.
9) On March 10, SpiceJet conducted test runs of the 78-seater Bombardier Q400 from Kolkata to Pakyong.
10) October 8, SpiceJet will operate daily flights to and from Kolkata and Guwahati under the Union Civil Aviation Ministry’s UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) scheme that aims to enhance regional connectivity. Fare prices are pegged at Rs 2,600.