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Assam’s LGB airport to be regional hub for NE: Ravi
Correspondent UMROI (MEGHALAYA), JUNE 25:
Published on 26 Jun. 2011 12:01 AM IST
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Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi Saturday said Assam’s Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport will be made as a regional hub to increase air connectivity in the North Eastern states.
“The Airport Authority of India (AAI) is building two hangars at Guwahati (Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi airport) for this purpose,” Ravi announced at the inauguration of new terminal building of the Shillong airport in Meghalaya.
The regional hub is expected to become operational early next year, while the Centre has proposed to built 12 new airports, in addition to the existing 11 airports to improve air connectivity. In fact, the regional hub for Civil Aviation at Guwahati has been a three decade old demand of the people of the region.
The civil aviation minister said that he would try his best to improve air connectivity in the region. “In the last four years, operational airports have increased from the 50 to 89 around the Country but this will not complete if air connectivity is still meager,” Ravi asserted.
Pointing out that infrastructure development is a key priority, Ravi said “Airport is the window of any country and state when anyone arrives for the first time and they (airports) are also catalyst of economic growth being the very gateway of the nation or the state.” The Shillong airport, formerly known as Umroi airport, is about 35 km north of Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya.
The new terminal, built at a cost of Rs.30 crore, is fitted with latest equipments like explosive trace detectors, baggage x-ray machines, and close-circuit cameras.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who was also present at the inaugural function of the new terminal, said the state government is exploring the possibilities for operation of private airlines from Shillong airport.
“We have decided to subsidize the rates for operations of such airlines (private) and we would like the Civil Aviation ministry to support the state government’s initiative in its effort to provide air connectivity,” Sangma said.
The land-locked Meghalaya is connected to the country mostly by road at present.
At present, the Shillong airport can accommodate only 50-seater ATR aircraft, serviced every day except Friday from Calcutta. The Umroi airport was constructed in the mid-60s and became operational in the mid-70s.
Airworthiness of helicopters service can be proven after investigation
With frequent helicopter crashes in the North Eastern region, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi Saturday said crash investigation reports would throw light on the airworthiness of the choppers that were in service.
“Only investigation reports would be able to throw light about allegations whether choppers with questionable airworthiness were being flown in the region,” Ravi told journalists here. The Civil Aviation Minister, who inaugurated the new terminal of Shillong airport, said the investigation report of the chopper crash of former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu would help us.
“Whether the choppers are worthy or unworthy to fly, it will be made known after the investigation is over. I don’t want to make any comment why it (helicopter crashes) happened. Investigation is going on, let the report comes out, then we will talk,” Ravi said.
He said that the chopper service in the region would resume only after mapping of chopper routes throughout the country is completed.
A three-member committee has been formed to probe into the circumstances that led to the crash of Khaundu’s chopper, where he along with four others died near Tawang last month.
The government has also formed a Committee of Inquiry to probe the circumstances of April 19 chopper crash at Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh that claimed the lives of 17 people. In fact, the ministry has constituted an Independent Accident Investigation Committee (IAIC) recently to probe air crashes in the country.
However, the committee is bogged into controversy with media reports stating that “tainted and inexperienced people” were inducted. “No names of the members of the committee have been decided so far. The media reports are not correct,” Ravi said.
Its been reported that the “tainted” Director (air safety) RS Passi from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and three other inexperienced people in their twenties were inducted as members of the Independent Accident Investigation Committee. Terming such reports as baseless, the Civil Aviation Minister said, “we would have people in the committee with relevant experience in the field,” the ministry stated.

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