The PM will also address a public meeting at St Xavier’s School playground after the inauguration of the airport.
Pakyong Airport is the first airport in Sikkim and 100th in the country.
Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, the Chief Secretary, AK Shrivastava informed that the PM will be accompanied by Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of State DoNER, Dr Jitendra Singh, and Union Minister of State, SS Ahluwalia among other dignitaries.
The inauguration programme will also be attended by Governor Ganga Prasad and Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.
While giving the technical details of the airport, the CS informed that the airport has been built in a total area of 201 acres at an altitude of 4500 feet and at an estimated cost Rs 605 crores.
The length of the runway is 1700 meters [1.7 kms] and the Width is 30 meters. It is informed that the Terminal building was spread in the area of 3000 square meters with a capacity of 100 passengers, 50 incoming and 50 outgoing.
He mentioned that Pakyong airport would be the 100th operational airport in the country. He further informed that the total amount disbursed towards compensation to affected people was Rs. 64.64 crore, and claims for additional amounts being made will be looked into by the Claims Commissioner, the Principal Secretary, Law Department, Government of Sikkim who was appointed on 9 August this year.
The CS informed that the Green Field Airport was conceived in the year 2000 when Chief Minister Pawan Chamling approached the then Chairman of Finance Commission and State Government was given a token sum. Another token sum was given by the next Finance Commission. This paved the way for exploration of a construction agency, he informed.
Ultimately the then Planning Commission agreed to fund the project as a Central sector activity. When developments appeared positive, foundation stone of Airport was laid in February 2002. Acquisition of land was gradually taken up and an MoU was signed with AAI for construction of airport on March 2002.
He further informed that the actual proposed date of completion of airport was fixed at 2012. Negotiations continued between AAI and the concerned departments, Roads & Bridges initially and Transport later. For want of decision in respect of funds no headway could be made. The initial estimate of RS.309.46 crores was approved. The Bhumi Pujan of the Airport was done in February 2009 and the construction was initiated by MIS Punj L1yod, a reputed Construction Agency in April-May 2009.
Despite the best efforts of AAI and the contractors, the airport took much more time than expected. It included the whole of 2014 when no construction took place. As it happens in such mega projects, both cost and time over run took place. The total estimate reached the figures of Rs.605.59 crores and the expected time of completion of project was fixed at February-March 2018.
The first trial run by an Air force Dornier plane took place on 5th March 2018 while the first trial run by a commercial plane (Spice Jet) took place on 10th March 2018. It will be significant to note that Spice Jet has won the bid for this airport under the UDAN scheme of Ministry of Civil Aviation and that they will start the first flight from Kolkata to Pakyong on 4th October 2018. In near future, flights from Guwahati and Delhi are also expected. The aircraft will be BOMBARDIER 400 having a capacity of 78 persons.
Chief Secretary Shrivastava further stated that the journey has been long (18 years) but it is a satisfying one at the end. The Airport will further boost tourism and industrial development in Sikkim.
Subsequently, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, RN Choubey, who is in the State to oversee the preparations and the final programme also interacted with the media and shared technical details about the Airport and the ensuing inauguration programme.