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New lease of life for Rupshi airport

By Correspondent

DHUBRI, June 3 - In view of the rising demands from various quarters, the Rupshi Airport of Dhubri is likely to be reopened soon.

Located about 15 km away from Dhubri town, the Rupshi Airport now in the BTAD area, was made operational during the World War II but was closed down in 1984. According to locals, if the airport starts functioning fully, it will be very helpful for the people, especially those of Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and South Salmara-Mankachar areas and also for the people of Bhutan.

In order to give a major boost to air connectivity in the North-east, the Aviation Ministry has decided to open as many as 92 new routes under the �Udaan� scheme. The Ministry has also decided to revive the old airports and accordingly construction works in the airport are being carried out.

According to officials, the Ministry has released an amount of Rs 40 crore as the first installment, where the workers from the EIC will clean up the jungles, demark the boundary of the airport and construct a 7-km boundary wall. The rest of the funds will be released in a phased manner. The Deputy General Manager of the Airport Authority of India (AAI), B Pandey after inspecting the site, informed that the construction works will be completed within a year.

It may be mentioned that the airport is spread over 447 acres of land. It has a 6,000-feet long runway for flying and landing of any kind of aircraft.

Meanwhile, the members of All Political Parties Coordination Committee for the Development of Dhubri district which has been fighting since decades for the reopening of this airport, has hailed the initiative of the Centre.

According to them, this airport will be a game changer for the district of Dhubri and the remote BTAD areas located along the borders of Dhubri district. �Interestingly, during the World War II, the airport had 150 hidden pockets in which aircraft were accommodated. Now, all the pockets will be renovated and reused by the Government of India�, said Partha Pratim Ghose, convenor of the committee. He also informed that a flight from Rupshi to Guwahati will take 23 minutes and will cost around Rs 1,500. Hasen Ali Sheikh, the co-ordinator of the committee, termed the airport as a vital one. Justifying his claim, Sheikh said that as the Indian Air Force does not have any air base in western Assam, the Rupshi airport can play a major role in the days to come.

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