Pakyong, 24 Sept:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Sikkim’s first airport and the 100th functional airport of the country at Pakyong here in East Sikkim today.
The PM unveiled the plaque of the Pakyong Greenfield Airport declaring the airport open for operations which was followed by a book release ‘100 Airports of India’ published by AAI.
He was accompanied by Governor Ganga Prasad, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, Union Minister for Commerce & Industries and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, Minister of State for DoNER, Dr. Jitendra Singh and Minister of State and Darjeeling MP, S.S Ahluwalia, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, RN Choubey, Cabinet Ministers and representatives from BJP state unit.
Union Minister for Commerce & Industries and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu also presented a memento to the Prime Minister on the occasion.
After inaugurating the airport, the PM along with the entourage headed to the St. Xaviers School playground at Pakyong where a massive gathering of Cabinet Ministers, MLAs, HODs and officials, students and the public of Sikkim had been waiting in anticipation for the Prime Minister.
The PM started off his address with a few lines in Nepali which instantly got a spirited response from the public. He said that Sikkim was a beautiful state with equally beautiful people.
"I couldn't help but click pictures this morning," he said.
With this airport, India has hit a century when it comes to airports, the PM said wherein he also mentioned Sikkimese cricketer Nilesh Lamichaney, who recently scored a century in the Vijay Hazare Trophy becoming the first from the State to do so.
“I dedicate Pakyong Airport to the nation and hand over its command to the Sikkimese people”, he said stressing that the Pakyong Airport would significantly ease connectivity to and from Sikkim while also ushering in a new wave of economic growth and development for the state, especially in the field of organic farming and the thriving tourism sector here.
He stated that today is a historic day for the state as the long awaited Sikkimese dream of air connectivity has finally been realized and added that the country has hit a century of airports with Pakyong Airport.
Talking about the UDAAN scheme under which Spicejet airlines has secured the operation of Kolkata-Pakyong route, the PM stated that not only the distance and the hardship of a long road route has not been cut but it the airfare would also be affordable at around Rs 2500 to Rs 2600.
He mentioned how he has been touring the North East Region for the past few days and that he has been fortunate enough to inaugurate infrastructures dedicated in the service of the nation. He asserted that emphasis is being given to both infrastructural and emotional connectivity with the north east region and established that he has personally visited the region several times to review developmental works. He also informed that Union Ministers regularly visit the region, the results of which are visible on the ground with enhanced air and rail connectivity and bigger and better roads and bridges.
Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, while welcoming the Prime Minister and his entourage to the State, expressed deepest gratitude to the Prime Minister on behalf of the Sikkimese people for the gift of air connectivity to the state.
He said that it is a proud moment for the State and lavishly praised the PM calling him a superhero in world affairs which has resulted in growing respect for India internationally.
"All must be proud to be Indians," added the Chief Minister.
He further added that Sikkim is terrorism free, peaceful and a rapidly developing state with communal harmony and patriotism deeply embedded in all Sikkimese.
Adding further he thanked the Prime Minister for granting permission to Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit Sikkim.
He also took this opportunity to reiterate certain demands placed forward by the state government to the centre and expressed positivity that they would be addressed at the earliest.
Earlier, Union Minister for Commerce & Industries and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, delivered the welcome address wherein he stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has travelled all the way to Sikkim to gift the state a lifelong support in terms of air connectivity. He stated that this marks the beginning of a new era in the aviation history of Sikkim and that it will boost connectivity, tourism and trade by linking this prodigious state to the rest of the country by air. He added that this will greatly decrease travel time which will benefit the tourists and the locals in the state.
The Pakyong Greenfield Airport has been built in a total area of 201 acres at an altitude of 4500ft at an estimated cost of Rs.605 crore and the terminal building is spread across an area of 3000 square meters.