Full-fledged air services from Balurghat to kick off from April
KOLKATA: Full-fledged air services from Balurghat airport will kick off from April as Public Works department has targeted to complete the total project including the runway by the end of March.
PWD sources informed the project started on July in 2016.
"We have targeted to complete the project by the end of March. A sum total of Rs 10,66,98,781 has been allotted for it. The runway of existing airport will be extended up to 278 meter from both ends," said a PWD official.
"We have nearly finished developing infrastructure at Balurghat airport which is mandatory for air services. We have already constructed boundary fencing, passenger shed, visitors' waiting room and restroom for the employees of the concerned department.
The rest of pending task will be completed within the stipulated period," he asserted.
Meanwhile, the project was a result of an agreement through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which was signed between the state government and Airports Authority of India on June 29, 2016 at Uttarkanya in Siliguri in the presence of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
As a result, it was declared that the state will take Balurghat and Malda airports on lease for 30 years for an annual fee of Re 1.
The CM has targeted to develop infrastructure of Balurghat and Malda airports on the basis of the agreement with AAI.
It is also her target to setup new runways in Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar as well for helicopter landing because of her frequent trip to north Bengal to conduct meetings with administrative officials after coming to power for the second time.
Balurghat has an airport in Mahinagar, 5 km away from here. It was built in 1947 covering 132.66 acre of land with 1097 meter long runway. Sources said Balurghat airport has been defunct since 1987 when Vayudoot stopped
22-seater flight services.
Notably helicopter services between Balurghat and Calcutta via Malda with a chopper landing started functioning on January 1 in 2014 but it was irregular for the lack of passengers.
Sources said a ride between Balurghat and Calcutta costed Rs 1,500 per head in the seven-seat helicopter which used to fly once a week and took 1.30 hours.