GUWAHATI, Jan 21 � Rupsi airfield, which has been forgotten and ignored for long, could be back on the radar of air traffic. If the Assam Government and the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) do their bit, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Indian Air Force (IAF) are willing to revive Rupsi as an airport catering to civilian as well as defence needs.
The development is significant as the proposed airport will be able to cater to the needs of a large population of western Assam that has remained unserved by civil aviation for several decades after the country�s independence. Guwahati�s LGBI Airport is the only entry and exit point for a large number of air travellers who have to journey several hours from western areas of the state.
Development of the Rupsi airfield, which is located at a strategic site, will be an advantage for the IAF, especially when it comes to fulfilling its logistical requirements. As a base it can add much needed muscle to its transport operations, an emerging need in the backdrop of Chinese military build-up in the eastern Himalayan region.
An official communication from the Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation to HS Brahma, Election Commissioner of India, dated January 19, 2012, stated that the Ministry of Civil Aviation has considered and agreed to a proposal of the AAI in respect of the request of IAF to proceed with a plan to develop the Rupsi airfield on similar lines of the Kargil airport.
At a �co-ordination meeting� between AAI and the IAF on January 6 this year the IAF proposed that the AAI may carry out �demarcation of the airport land in coordination with State Government and accordingly convey the actual availability of land�. The follow- up action is being taken by the AAI.
The communication also stated that the BTC had initially proposed a greenfield airport at Kokrajhar located not far from Rupsi. Later, the BTC Secretariat conveyed its acceptance of Rupsi airport to be developed in lieu of the proposed greenfield airport.
Election Commissioner Brahma, who was responsible for taking the initiative of reviving the Rupsi airport has appreciated the move of the Civil Aviation Ministry, and has stated his intent to bring the recent development to the notice of the Chief Secretary, Government of Assam and the State Transport Minister.