The State government has proposed to take over the land in Balurghat and Malda Airports to develop the airstrips which are lying unused for many years.
The decision to take over the land has been taken in Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
According to a state government official, soon the Draft Civil Aviation Policy 2015 that encourages enhancement of regional connectivity is going to be finalised. The aim of the policy is to create a system that will enable 30 crore domestic tickets and 50 crore by the end of 2022 and 2027 respectively. In a bid to meet the target it is essential to develop the infrastructure in regional level across the country. Thus, it is expected that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will have no objection in the proposal of the State government and it will hand over the lands of the two airports to the government to build up the infrastructure. The Balurghat Airport is on 132 acre of land and the area of Malda Airport is 114 acres. The draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been prepared and it has been sent to the AAI. The work to upgrade the airstrips will start soon after the administrative work is over, the official said. It is learnt that AAI will retain a few acres of land in both the airports for their operations.
It may be mentioned that several steps have been taken after the change of guard in the state to connect various areas by air. The air connectivity between Kolkata and Cooch Behar via Bagdora had resumed on 31 December 2015. Helicopter services were introduced from Kolkata to different parts including Digha and North Bengal.
The second International Airport in the state came up at Andal in Burdwan and flights to Delhi from Kolkata via Andal had started operating.
It may be recalled that during World War II airstrips were constructed in every districts for helicopters to ply. After the war ended small aircrafts used to carry essential commodities for district magistrates.