PM Modi inaugurates Sikkim’s first airport in Pakyong
Nine years after the foundation stone of Sikkim’s first – and only – airport was laid, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pakyong airport today. The greenfield airport is expected to improve the connectivity to the land-locked state nestled in the Himalayas and give a boost to its tourism.
Commercial flight operations from the Pakyong airport, around 33 km from Gangtok, would begin from October 4, Pakyong Airport Director R Manjunatha said. Sikkim was the only state in India remaining without a functional airport.
Addressing people at a school in Pakyong after the inauguration, PM Modi said Pakyong airport is the “symbol of our engineering skills”. “I want to congratulate all the engineers and workers who planned and built this airport. A lot of work is happening in the northeast for the first time since Independence. In some places airports, railways and even electricity reached for the first time,” PM Modi said.
PM Modi landed in state capital Gangtok on Sunday in a helicopter. He was received by Governor Ganga Prasad and Chief Minister Pawan Chamling. On his way, he clicked scenic pictures of the state from the MI-8 chopper and shared them on Twitter.
Here’s all you need to know about Pakyong airport
- The foundation stone for the greenfield airport was laid in Pakyong in 2009, which is around 33 km from Gangtok — the state capital. The airport is located around 60 km from the Indo-China border.
- The airport is spread over 201 acres. It is located on top of a hill about two km above Pakyong village at 4,500 feet above sea level.
- It is constructed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). The project cost Rs 553 crore.
- The airport is seen as an engineering marvel for its soil reinforcement and slope stabilization techniques, keeping in view the altitude it was built at.
- Integrated structures of the airport comprise of an ATC tower-cum-fire station, a terminal building for passengers, high-intensity runway lights, parking for over 50 vehicles.
- The reinforcement wall of the project is 80-metre-high — one of the tallest in the world.
- The runway is 1.75 km long and is 30 metres wide. It has a 116-meter taxiway connecting the runway to an apron measuring 106 meters by 76 meters. The apron can accommodate two ATR-72 aircraft.
- The airport has 3,000 square metre terminal building and has a capacity to handle 50 in-bound and outbound passengers.
- Although the airport will be inaugurated on September 24, the commercial operations are expected to begin on October 4.
- There is also plan to construct another 75-metre stretch adjacent to the main runway in the coming days, which would allow the Indian Air Force (IAF) to land various types of aircraft on the airport’s runway.