DHUBRI/KOKRAJHAR: The long-cherished dream of the people of western Assam came true on Saturday when a Fly Big ATR 72 Type Aircraft hit the airstrip at Rupsi Airport at 12.10 pm from the Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport.
The same aircraft flew to Kolkata with passengers at 12.40 pm. Newly-elected UPPL MLA UG Brahma, Kokrajhar Deputy Commissioner Bhaskar Phukan and SP Rakesh Roshan and others greeted the passengers at their arrival with arnai and phulam gamosa.
Fly Big air, a private operator has already announced its weekly four days (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) schedule of arrival and departure from May 8 to October 30.
Rupshi Airport was completed in September 2019 under the 'Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)' scheduled to be operational in January 2020, but due to a sudden surge in COVID-19, it was postponed, a source in Dhubri district administration said.
This airport — under the AAI (Airports Authority of India) has been renovated at an estimated cost of Rs 69 crore and has also received its license from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Talking to The Sentinel Rupshi Airport Revival Demand Committee president Bimal Oswal said that at last after 38 years that the Airport, built during World War II, has been reopened under the Prime Minister's ambitious project, Udan 2. "This will usher in new vistas of development in Dhubri, Kokrjhar and Bongaigaon districts as fast connectivity is a prerequisite for socio-economic progress," he said.
The Rupsi Airport is located in the Kokrajhar district, 65 km from Kokrajhar town. Its nearest town is Dhubri, at a distance of 20 km.
The airport will cater to the need of air travellers from four districts of Western Assam, particularly Dhubri, Kokarajhar, Bongaigaon and Goalpara as well as the neighbouring states of West Bengal and Meghalaya, besides some parts of Bhutan.
This airport is one of the country's newest in the RCS route; and will cater to the local population providing direct connectivity to cities like Guwahati and Kolkata.
The river port in Dhubri was closed in 1965 after the Indo-Pak war and rail communication remained suspended from 1988 to 2011 while Rupshi Airport was closed in 1983.
A retired teacher of Khudimari village near Rupsi Airport, Pulakesh Chakraborty,79 while recalling his air trip from Rupsi Airpor to Calcutta in the 1970s said that at that time the fare was Rs. 72.
"It gives me immense pleasure to see the airport operational. I don't know whether I could travel again or not, but important connectivity has been restored which will bring a sea change in the economy in this part of Assam," Chakraborty, beaming with happiness, said.
Spread across 337 acres of land, the newly developed airport has a terminal building with an area of 3,500 sq. m. Equipped with 10 check-in counters, the terminal is designed to process 200 passengers during peak hours. The newly-built runway of the airport is suitable for the landing of the "ATR-72" -a type of aircraft.
The city side of the airport has car parking (for arrivals and departures); and also can accommodate 100 cars. The airport is also provisioned with sustainability features like rainwater harvesting system, solid waste management system and horticulture works, among others. A fenced forest with rich fauna and flora surrounds the airport.