Gangtok: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated the Pakyong Airport in Sikkim, the first ever aerodrome of the state.
Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and Union Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu were also present on the occasion, as the Prime Minister unveiled the plaque, formally inaugurating the 990-acre aero facility.
The first commercial flight from Pakyong is scheduled to start on October 4.
The airport, located 33 kilometres off the state capital Gangtok, will circumvent the need for a five-hour journey through mountainous roads and is expected to ease off the air traffic congestion at West Bengal’s Bagdogra.
Strategically, the airport holds relevance as it’s 60 kilometres from the India-China border. It will also provide the Indian Air force (IAF) with a convenient landing and takeoff facility.
With Sikkim perceived as one of the major tourist destinations, the airport is expected to provide a much-needed impetus to the tourism industry in the state.
Built at an estimated cost of over Rs. 605 crores, the Pakyong Airport is another feature added to the profile of Sikkim, which has, in the last three to four years, achieved the distinction of becoming the first “Organic State” and also the first “Open Defecation Free” (ODF) state of India.
The airport is an example of one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet projects- the UDAN. The programme, started in 2016, is a regional airport development and “Regional Connectivity Scheme” for the common citizen of the country.
The UDAN aims to make air travel affordable and widespread, boosting the economy and infrastructural development of otherwise neglected regions of India.