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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Indian Army to build air base in Dooars

Pramod Giri, Hindustan Times  Silliguri, August 23, 2013
First Published: 11:08 IST(23/8/2013) | Last Updated: 14:30 IST(23/8/2013)

The Indian Army is all set to come up with an air base in strategically located North Bengal.

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The Army has identified 750 acres of land near Damdim in the Dooars in Jalpaiguri district and has sought the state government’s help in acquiring 250 acres of land.

A high level meeting was held in Siliguri chaired by North Bengal development minister Goutam Deb where senior army officers led by Lt General AJ Singh, the GOC of 33 Corps was present.

Talking to reporters, Deb said the army requires 750 acres of land for the base at Shaugaon near Damdim.

The army is already in possession of 500 acres of land and has sought the state’s government’s help to acquire the rest.

Deb said the state government would help the army as land can always be acquired for national interest.

The minister added that the army has also sought help in constructing an alternative road connecting Sikkim with the rest of the country via Gorubathan, Lava, Algara and Pedong.

The proposed base comes at a time when China has improved rail and road links to Nathula border.

The new road and the base would help Indian army to increase mobility in a region bordering China, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

The army is also likely to set up a modern armoury near its proposed air base.

North Bengal has three air force bases at Hashimara, Binnaguri and Bagdogra.

Unlike the Chinese move to expand railway connectivity up to Sino-India border near Nathula, the proposed Rs. 1339.46 crore Sevoke-Rangpo railway, the foundation for which was laid on October 30 2009, is gathering dust.

Vice-President Mohammed Hamid Ansari laid the foundation stone in presence of Mamata Banerjee the then railway minister and chief minister of Sikkim Pawan Chamling.

The 52.70 km long rail connectivity from Sevoke near Siliguri, to Rangpo in Sikkim is yet to get clearance from the union ministry of environment and forest.

The state government has been accusing the Centre of delaying the project.

The railway survey up to Nathula has been completed.

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