In a major move to connect the mountainous state of Manipur with the rest of India through helicopter service, the Centre has decided to include six new airports of the state under Regional Connectivity Scheme of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. This scheme is expected to give a boost to the job market through tourism. Manipur is under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFASPA).
"We have identified six unnerved airports in the state to start the helicopter services on regular basis under customer oriented policy. Thus the service, in its first phase will connect six major cities of the state through helicopters," said a senior officer in the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The six airports in Manipur included in the RCS are – Imphal (Kornagee), Jiribam, Morech, Parbung, Tamenglong, and Thanlon. Presently, the air connectivity of the state with rest of the India is only through Bir Tikendrajit International Airport situated in the capital of the state - Imphal.
The government has also included Shillong airport in RCS scheme to start regular flights. Besides, the Civil Aviation Ministry has also decided to increase number of flights and helicopters in Aizwal (Turial) airport in Mizoram, Dimapur in Nagaland, Silchar in ssam and Agartala in Tripura to provide better connectivity to the people of North East States. The ministry has a target to launch the services in mid February and complete the air connectivity of all these routs by April.
"Manipur is a tourist hotspot for its blue mountains, natural beauty and rich ethnic culture. The connectivity will boost tourism in the state and bring jobs for locals in the form of tourist guides, transporters, hotels in addition to the direct jobs created through expansion of the air service," he added.
The state was recently in the limelight for complete shut down and blockage of the national highways which had alienated it economically from the rest of the country. The social activists claim 1,528 people faced extra judicial killing in the state from 1979 to 2012. The killings and violation of human rights by the security forces in the state led to 16 years fast by Manipur social activist Irom Sharmila Chanu who decided to join mainstream politics last year.