GOLAKGANJ, Jan 3 � Few people are aware of the fact that 30 years back, Dhubri had an airport. Rupshi, the erstwhile airport of the town, needs no introduction in this part of the State.
The Rupshi Airport was established during the World War II. It had the capacity to accommodate 52 jet aeroplanes. The length of the runway was 6,000 feet. There was a terminal building for the planes and motor parking facilities were also available. It may be mentioned that the Rupshi Airport was mainly established for military purposes during the World War II, but later, it was also used for other purposes. There was a regular air service from Rupshi to Calcutta. In 1980, a domestic airline service was started from Rupshi to Borjhar for the first time. However, the service was discontinued only after a year.
After 33 years of misuse and due to lack of proper maintenance, the tower in the airport was damaged. Several valuables were also reportedly stolen.
A retired government officer, recalling the experience of his flight to Calcutta from the Rupshi Airport, said that boarding aeroplanes at Rupshi was a unique experience in itself. What fascinated him about the Rupshi Airport was its casual ambience.
The runway of the airport ran across a huge field. Passengers did not have to wait long to catch the solitary flight to Calcutta (via Rupshi) and were also assured of a hassle-free journey.
�In fact, we are now standing on what was then the runway,� recollected a 70-year-old resident of the locality. The runway now wears a deserted look with forest covering almost the entire airport. On being asked about the airport where he had worked in the refuelling section, Ramji Choudhury was reluctant to talk about the �dead� airport.
There was a great entrepreneurial effort to operate private airline services on the Rupshi-Calcutta route. �I was a chowkidar of the airport, but I had to do other things as well,� reminisced Ramji. Passengers were mostly associated with the tea industry which had the major share of the cargo. There used to be a constant rush for tickets on festive occasions. Boarding a plane at Rupshi was as simple as hopping on to an inter-city bus.
Ramji recalled how crowded the lounge would become with schoolchildren during the vacations. The building is now in a state of ruins. It may be mentioned that on May 25 last year, an airport authority team from Guwahati conducted a survey as to whether the place could be rebuilt as an airport. If the project materialises, the people of Rupshi area will gain immensely. The Government and the authorities concerned should reconstruct the historic Rupshi Airport in the greater interest of the people, local people said.