DIBRUGARH, July 29 - Dibrugarh airport, the easternmost civilian airport of the country, and having geographic proximity to the booming economies of South East Asia, has the potential to be developed into an export hub of North East India.
This was felt by the newly-appointed Director of Dibrugarh airport, Nawnit Kumar Gupta, who has begun his mission after assuming charge at the airport last month. He was talking to social activists who called on him on Tuesday to take stock of the ongoing runway extension project at the airport.
The ground work at the site, although features a material testing laboratory, stacking of stone chips and sand and also some pile foundation work on the ground, unfortunately wears a deserted look. It is gathered that since the past 30 days or so, Army officials met the Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials at the airport and asked the latter to shift the material testing laboratory elsewhere, saying the present location belongs to the Defence establishment. The Army officials also asked AAI to stop dumping of materials claiming that the land on which the same had been set up and dumping of materials was being done, belonged to them.
Even as the AAI approached both the Army authorities and the Deputy Commissioner in Dibrugarh with the plea for an early resolution of the issue in the greater interest of the already- delayed project, it could not be ascertained when all the concerned parties are going to hammer out a much-needed solution across the table.
It may be mentioned here that the Army had handed over 5.33 acres of land for the runway extension project in Dibrugarh in exchange for 8.0 acres of land and some other facilities at Lilabari from the Airports Authority of India to the Defence establishment more than a year ago. The Army�s claim over the AAI-occupied land seems mischevious. The social activists also demanded that the State Government intervene and ensure that the Army � AAI vexation is sorted out immediately.
The Dibrugarh airport is also going to have a hanger capable of accommodating an Airbus 320 aircraft and also a new Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower building, which will have state-of-the-art navigational facilities.
As per the blueprint, a new taxiway from the extended portion of the runway to the isolation bay will be constructed. The new facilities in the offing include a long array of runway guiding lights, as a booster to night landing of aircraft.
Gupta is hopeful that a proposed Dibrugarh Flying Club can be operationalised, once the runway lengthening work is completed. The present runway here is 6,000 feet, which is being lengthened to 7,500 feet, to accommodate plying of bigger aircraft with heavier load. The work is scheduled for completion in 2018. One hopes this can be precluded to 2017.