GUWAHATI, April 6 - The Airports Authority of India (AAI), North East Region, has stepped up efforts in a proactive manner at different levels, from movement of cargo to extending financial aid for protective gear, in the fight against COVID-19.
Right from February 2020, screening of all international passengers was started at the Guwahati airport. A dedicated thermal screening camera was installed at the LGBI Airport for mass screening and checking of passengers, which helped the team of doctors and made it convenient for the passengers as well.
�Regarding resumption of commercial flight services from April 15 next, the final decision is yet to be taken by the Government of India, but our airports in NER are ready to cater to all the services as per normal practice with all the precautions in place and sanitization of airport premises, including the passenger terminal building,� informed Sanjeev Jindal, Regional Executive Director, AAI, while addressing the media via video conferencing today.
After the lockdown, the commercial flight operations ceased from midnight of March 24 but airports were opened with minimum staff to run the emergency and essential services. All 12 airports in NE were kept open for the same, and, as per demand of the airlines and the directives of the Aviation Ministry, the watch hours at the airports were extended.
�AAI in NER was equally bothered for the frontline staff dealing with the screening and segregation of the coronavirus suspects and operations of the airport, so we provided masks, gloves, and kept sanitisers at all the places, points of contact and corners at the airport. We later provided protective kits to the health workers and CISF personnel for their personal protection,� he said.
Jindal further said AAI is worried about the professionals in the forefront of the fight against novel coronavirus, and to enable this, AAI in NER under its CSR scheme donated Rs 10 lakh each to the state governments.
The lifeline UDAAN portal was floated by the government, where cargo flights and routes were sketched to cater to the domestic export of essential and emergency goods, especially medical goods, for the farthest places in the country. The NE region was given special focus on the UDAAN routes and cargo flights constituting dedicated freighters and helicopters added many sorties to carry medical goods to the region.
A total of 90 tonnes of air cargo, till date, have been delivered to different NER stations and about three tonnes have been airlifted from these ports � mainly Guwahati, Agartala, Imphal, Dibrugarh, Silchar, Jorhat, Tezpur and Dimapur.
A voluntary contribution of five days� salary or a minimum three days� salary has been made by the AAI employees at their personal level, and some of them have even contributed an entire month�s salary, for India�s fight against COVID-19. �I have identified 10 airports in the region where we will feed 500 families at each airport providing 5 kg of rice to each family during this crisis,� added Jindal.
�We are equally worried for the Anganwadi workers and will be contributing Rs 25 lakh for Manipur and Rs 20 lakh for Rani block in Assam with the help of UNDP-UNICEF. The AAI has donated altogether Rs 15 crore under CSR funds and out of this Rs 3 crore is from NER,� he further mentioned.
The AAI (NER), in association with the press clubs and media trusts, has provided protective and personal hygiene kits for the journalist reporting from the ground on the pandemic. The activity has been carried out at the Guwahati Press Club and will be done at Agartala as well, he said. Help has also been planned for the police personnel who are working far away from home in this crisis. Rs 50 lakh will be donated to all the state police forces in the region for procuring PPEs, kits, masks, etc.