PM arrives in Gangtok today

Report by: 
22 Sep 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Gangtok on Sunday evening. He will inaugurate the Pakyong greenfield airport, the 100th airport in the country, on Monday morning and address a public meeting at the St Xavier’s School ground later in the day. Modi would be accompanied by Union Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu, DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh and Union Minister of State S. S. Ahluwalia.
According to a PTI report, he would arrive n Bagdogra airport on Sunday and from there fly in a helicopter to Gangtok. On his return journey the next day, after completion of his programmes Modi would board a helicopter at Pakyong and fly to Bagdogra.
Chief Secretary of Sikkim A. K. Srivastava said the Green Field Airport was conceived in 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.
Ultimately the Planning Commission agreed to fund the project as a Central sector activity. When developments appeared positive, the foundation stone of Airport was laid in February 2002. Acquisition of land was gradually taken up and an MoU was signed with the Airport Authority of India for construction of airport in March 2002.
Union Civil Aviation Secretary R. N. Choubey said that it was initiatially a difficult proposition because of the terrain, and it was an engineering challenge to convert a hill into a flat land. One side of the hill was excavated and the other side of the land was filled with the same materials. The hill cutting and land filling were done for a long stretch of 2 kms. 
He said the run way is roughly about 1.7 kms long, and could handle an 80-seater aircraft. The aircraft pilots had been specifically trained for take-off and landing procedures in these conditions.
Eco-friendly methods and technology like geo-grid were used to build the airport. All the safety norms had been followed and the airport poses no danger to residents of nearby areas.  The outer wall of the airport is an engineering marvel as it was the highest man-made vertical wall in the country.