Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Sikkim Sunday evening to inaugurate Sikkim’s first-ever airport at Pakyong on Monday.
He was received by the governor Ganga Prasad, chief minister Pawan Chamling, union minister MoS (Independent Charge) PMO and Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region Dr Jitendra Singh , union civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu, union minister of state, SS Ahluwalia, Sikkim Legislative Assembly Speaker KN Rai and Deputy Speaker Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, MP Lok Sabha and MP Rajya Sabha from Sikkim, cabinet ministers, GOC of 17 Mountain Division, chief secretary AK Srivastava, additional chief secretary SC Gupta, DGP and other senior state officials and representatives from BJP state unit.
“It is a historic occasion for the entire Northeast and, in fact, for the entire country to celebrate. It has been over 40 years since Sikkim became a part of India, but now the Prime Minister will inaugurate the airport in this hill state and bring it on the air-map of the world,” DoNER Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said.
Singh informed that the airport is located at Pakyong, around 60 kms from the Indo-China border, which also makes it strategically relevant from the security point of view. “The Indian Air Force (IAF) will also find this airport convenient for the landing and taking off of its aircrafts,” he said.
From the tourist point of view, Dr Singh said, this is a major booster because Sikkim has been one of the favorite destinations for tourists, almost all throughout the year.
“With the new airport becoming functional, the travelling time will get cut down by almost 5 hours because, earlier, the nearest airport to which the tourists could fly down was Bagdogra in West Bengal,” he said.
Built at an estimated cost of over Rs 605 Cr, the Pakyong airport is a new distinction for the state of Sikkim which has, in the last three to four years, achieved the distinction of becoming the first “Organic State” of India and also the first “Open Defecation Free” (ODF) state of India.