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Trade and Industry Forum welcomes aviation policy with reservations

Special Correspondent

Silchar, June 23: The new aviation policy cleared by the Central Government has been hailed by the Joint Forum for Trade Commerce and Industry (JFTCI), Barak Valley, but with certain reservations. It has been highlighted umpteen times in the media about the plight of the flyers of this valley who have to pay abnormal air fare, besides being inconvenienced due to lack of flights from the Kumbhirgram airport. Along with this valley, the people of North Cachar Hills have also to suffer as they have to take to this airport for their journey.

 Briefing media-persons in the conference hall of a hotel here today, Ashit Dutta representing JFTCI said it is most paradoxical that despite all the arrangements and load factor, Kumbhirgram airport should continue to be discrimited against by the Civil Aviation Ministry. If the people of this valley are to be benefited by the new policy, the flying hour should be counted on the basis of aerial kilometre. Kilometre cannot be changed, but the flying hour can be adjusted in order to regulate flight fare to Rs.2500 for Guwahati and Rs.3000 for Kolkata.

 Ashit Dutta pointed out if the policy is for 750 km than almost all cities and towns of north east will be benefited. As night landing is not allowed at Silchar airport because of its being controlled by Air Force, a civil controlled airport is the need of the hour. This valley needs more flights from here to connect other major towns of north east. Apart from that, Boeing flight to Kolkata and beyond should be made daily.

 Angshu Kumar Roy, an important functiory of the Forum, said since a good number of cardiac and neuro patients from this valley have to go for better treatment outside, Boeing services are essential. ATR does not have enough space and stretcher facility. Many students of this valley study in metropolitan cities of the country. They have to face lot of difficulties as there is no direct flight from major centres of higher education. Business executives who have to move fast on business need convenient flights. This is important for development of business in this valley.

 Nilotpal Choudhury, media executive, highlighted the acute problems faced by the travelling public of this region having to live in a land-locked valley where road and rail transport are challenged by the vagaries of ture. Air connectivity in the circumstances is the only mode of dependable journey. Against this backdrop Sumanta Sarathi Endow associated with the Forum said due to high air fare, many people prefer to go to Agartala to board a flight to Kolkata where the air fare is most ratiol. At Kumbhirgram airport, one has to cough up Rs.8500 for Kolkata against Rs.3500 from Agartala.

 Air services from Silchar airport, as he pointed out, are further crippled by the limited operations of Boeing with a capacity of 144 passengers which is restricted to 4 days a week. ATR flights are no doubt daily but the capacity is only for 50 to 60 passengers. More Boeing flights alone can accommodate the growing passenger load from here. 2 more Boeing flights need to be introduced and air fare regulated to Rs.3000 for Kolkata and Rs.2500 for Guwahati. It is entirely for the development of this valley, the Forum demands improvement of air travel facilities from Kumbhirgram airport. A representation on the subject has been addressed to Prime Minister rendra Modi, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gapathi Raju and Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal as well as to other ministers concerned.