The Airports Authority of India may soon launch a Rs 250-crore project to upgrade the Agartala airport in Tripura. A formal announcement on the same is expected in next three to four months.

The project will include extension of runway to help accommodate wide-bodied aircraft and expansion and improvement of the passenger amenities.

“We had a fruitful discussion with the Airport Authority in the presence of the Union Civil Aviation Secretary K. N. Srivastava early this month. AAI has agreed to upgrade the airport,” Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar told Business Line.

International airport

The landlocked State has limited road and rail connectivity with the rest of the country and is primarily dependent on air travel.

According to sources, keeping in tune with the improving ties with neighbouring Bangladesh, the Tripura Government has requested that the airport be upgraded into an international airport. This should help improve business and tourism in Tripura in the long run. The proposal has received an in-principle nod from the Centre. Accordingly, it was decided that the airport be modernised with an aim to convert it into an international airport in the longer run.

Joint initiative

The expansion, however, will not be a cakewalk. Located in a populated area near the city, the runway extension would require acquisition of over 107 acres of land over and above the available 70 acres.

“The extension would require relocation of some families. To minimise the impact, we have requested AAI to optimise land utilisation. They have also agreed to hand over some land available with them for rehabilitation of the project affected people,” Sarkar said.

pratim.bose@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 25, 2013)
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