Agartala, Sep 26 (IANS) The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has approved a Rs.438 crore project to upgrade the Agartala airport to international standards by providing world-class facilities, union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has said.
The project is expected to boost the north-east region’s connectivity with Southeast Asia, especially with Bangladesh.
Raju, accompanied by senior officials held a meeting with the Tripura Transport and Power Minister Manik Dey in Wednesday in New Delhi and discussed various aviation projects in the northeastern region.
Returning here, Dey told reporters on Saturday: “The civil aviation minister informed that the AAI board, in its meeting on September 11, has approved a Rs.438 crore to modernise the Agartala airport with international standards by providing world-class facilities.”
“Flights between (Bangladesh capital) Dhaka – as well as important cities like Chittagong and Sylhet – and Agartala could then be operated,” the Tripura minister added.
He said that the upgrade is justified as the Agartala is the second largest city in the north-east region in terms of population and air traffic after Guwahati.
Dey said that the Agartala airport handled 816,303 passengers in 2013 and the number rose to 905,014 last year.
The minister also urged the union civil aviation minister to take steps to increase the number of flights from Agartala to Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati. keeping in mind the halt in train services due to gauge conversion works, the poor condition of the only national highway and Tripura’s poor connectivity with the rest of the country.
Dey said that the state government had already provided 72 acres of land to AAI for construction of the new terminal building, runway and other necessary infrastructure.
“The AAI has been asking us to provide four more acres of land, but there is a huge scarcity of additional land. We will, however, try to provide this land as well,” he added.
The minister said that the state government has relocated 157 families to acquire 72 acres of land.
“If we acquire more land, more families will have to be evicted. This is a problem for us,” Dey stated.
The Tripura government has long been demanding operation of flights between north-eastern states and adjoining Bangladesh to boost trade, tourism and people-to-people contacts.
Currently, Guwahati and Imphal are the only two cities with international airports in the north-eastern region comprising eight states.