Engineering marvel at 4,500 feet: PM Modi inaugurates Sikkim’s Pakyong airport
Pakyong airport, about 30km from the state capital Gangtok has put Sikkim on India’s aviation map. Until now, Sikkim was the only state in the country which did not have an airport, the nearest one being in West Bengal’s Bagdogra, 125 km away.
The Pakyong airport, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated on Monday, is spread over 990 acres and is the first greenfield airport to be constructed in the north-east India. The project was approved by the Union Cabinet a decade ago.
At an altitude of more than 4,500 feet, the picturesque airport is considered an engineering marvel because of the terrain where it has been built.
State-of-the-art geotechnical engineering including soil reinforcement and slope stabilisation techniques were used because traditional retaining structures and embankments were ruled as unfeasible in the greenfield project, a government official said.
From next month, you can finally fly straight to Sikkim when the Pakyong airport comes into service. Budget carrier SpiceJet will operate the first flight from Pakyong airport with a flight from Kolkata on 4 October.
Currently, one has to fly to Bagdogra airport in West Bengal to reach Gangtok.
The Pakyong Airport has been included in the central government’s ambitious UDAN scheme. This is bound to enhance regional connectivity aiding the development of Sikkim’s tourism sector, the official said.
On March 5, an Indian Air Force Dornier 228 conducted test flights from the airport. On March 10, SpiceJet conducted test flights of the 78-seater Bombardier Q400 from Kolkata to Pakyong
The Pakyong airport is the 100th functional airport in India.
(With agency inputs)