SILCHAR, June 23 - At a time when uncertainty is looming large over the resumption of the Silchar-Guwahati train services hit by landslides and tilting of tracks on the hill section at Migrendisa, high fares charged by the airline companies coupled with fewer flights from Silchar has brought transport and communication for the people of Barak Valley almost into a standstill.
Reacting against the situation and particularly against the abnormal air fare, the Central Coordination Committee of Associations in collaboration with Joint Forum for Trade, Commerce and Industry of Barak Valley echoed the demands for increasing the number of flights from Silchar.
Asit Dutta, coordinator administration of Central Coordination Committee of Associations said that the new Civil Aviation Policy cleared by the Government must take aerial kilometres instead of flying hours. The forum demands an adjustment in the flying hours and regulation of flight fare to Rs 2,500 for Silchar-Guwahati flights and Rs 3,000 for Silchar-Kolkata. Also, there is an urgent need of more flights from Silchar since other modes of communication are disrupted in the monsoon season.
�For the development of this valley, there is an urgent need of improved air connectivity. The provisions of the new Civil Aviation Policy in terms of flight fares must be adhered to. If the policy is for 750 kms, than almost all the cities must get benefits of the policy. Further, the Barak Valley must have a civil airport because the Defence controlled airports unlike the one at Kumbhirgram in Silchar shall not be permitted for operating flights at night,� Dutta said.
He added that because of the escalated rate of tickets, passengers often reach Agartala via road or train and take flights to go to other cities. Vivek Podder, convener of the joint forum, highlighted the high rate of air tickets from Silchar saying that on June 22, Air India charged Rs 13,179 per person for a distance of 517 kms from Silchar to Kolkata. On the same day, Jet Airways charged Rs 10,879 for a flight distance of 182 kms between Silchar and Guwahati. In contrast, Air India charged Rs 3,382 for a distance of 528 kms between Guwahati and Kolkata. SpiceJet charged only Rs 3,203 for a distance of 332 kms between Agartala and Kolkata.
�Our dream of a prosperous city and business ambitions will never be achieved unless our solitary mode of safe transport during monsoon is improved,� Podder said.
Nilotpal Choudhury, a journalist and a member of the joint forum, said that along with the common people, industry and media sectors of Barak Valley are badly hit by the disruptions in the communication services of the region.
Members of the forum have also appealed to the Prime Minister, the Union Civil Aviation Minister, Chief Minister of Assam and other elected representatives to take immediate steps to improve the situation for the greater interest of the people of Barak Valley.