FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
Itagar, June 11: Aruchal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul on Friday discussed issues related to poor air connectivity in the state with union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and suggested several crucial proposals.
“Since our state does not have a wide rail network or waterways, roads become the only link for communication. But the difficult terrain over which these roads run, make travel very difficult and there are places not connected by roads that makes communication a major constraint for development,” Pul said during a meeting with the minister at New Delhi.
He stressed on air connectivity saying that it is the only viable altertive and the most obvious candidate for serious planning and investment, an official release informed here today.
Impressing upon the urgency to establish a civilian airport at Itagar, Pul said. “It is a great irony that we are today perhaps the only state in the entire country, which does not have a functiol civilian airport with any commercial airline operations.”
He said the matter of a civilian airport for state capital has been hanging for long which need quick implementation at a location, which is logistically most convenient and cost effective. In absence of air connectivity the development of the state has been getting hampered, the chief minister pointed out.
Raju agreed to depute a team of officer from the centre for site visit to start work for civilian airport in the state capital. In the interim, Pul urged that Air India/Alliance Air should commence regular flights to Lakhimpur and Tezpur in neighbouring Assam thrice a week.
The state government through NEC support would enter into a Viability Gap Funding agreement with the airlines, he said adding, the government would prescribe a subsidized fare and the gap for operatiol cost would be met through NEC support.
The chief minister also mentioned that the eight Advance Landing Ground (ALG) at Ziro, Aalo, Mechukha, Pasighat, Walong, Vijaygar and Tezu being commissioned at various locations in the state must be allowed for dual use to eble effective connectivity, which would also give a boost to tourism and economic development.
He requested that an arrangement for concurrent use in peacetime of the airstrips being developed by the Defence Ministry and Airports Authority of India, be worked out since these airstrips are also crucial for the needs of administration and tourism.
Also to increase air connectivity, Pul informed that the state government has plans to connect all district headquarters and important tourism destitions through helicopter services.
“This will not only facilitate travel of passengers and tourists, but also be of great use in case of evacuation of patients, for use by the NDRF and SDRF during disasters and also by law enforcement agencies,” he said and sought the support of the ministry to run a helicopter fleet with appropriate subsidies and funding.