10 things you should know about Sikkim's first and India's 100th airport

26th Sep 2018
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 Spread across 201 acres, the state-of-the-art Pakyong Airport in Sikkim is Northeast India's first greenfield airstrip.

Bordering Tibet in the north and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west, and West Bengal in the south, Sikkim is one of India's most beautiful states. However, it has been non-existent on the aviation and railway map for long. The location - nestled amid the mountains - may be reponsible for that, but Sikkim will now be more accessible, courtesy its brand new airport.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Pakyong Airport, the state's first airport and India's 100th airport in India. Spread across 201 acres, the state-of-the-art airport is Northeast India's first greenfield airstrip; it was constructed from undeveloped/empty fields from scratch. The project has been completed nine years after the foundation stone for the airport was laid, News 18 says.

PM Narendra Modi at the inauguration of Pakyong Airport in Sikkim. Source India TV

Inaugurated by Narendra Modi on Sunday evening, Pakyong Airport is located at a distance of 30 km from Sikkim's capital Gangtok. Following the inauguration, PM Narendra Modi said,

“I want to congratulate all the engineers and workers who planned and built this airport. Pakyong Airport is a symbol of our engineering skills.”

Here are few things you need to know about the Pakyong Airport engineering feat:

  • The airport is built on a hilltop at a height of 4,500 feet. The reinforcement wall of the project is 80-metre-high, one of the tallest in the world.
  • The entire infrastructure is built at the cost of Rs 600 crore. Its is also termed an engineering marvel for implementing soil reinforcement and slope stabilisation techniques.
  • It is a greenfield airport. The greenfield status in infrastructure denotes the execution of the project on unused lands, where there is no need of remodeling or demolishing an existing structure.
  • The side of the mountain was carved through the geotechnical cut-and-fill process. Cut and fill is an engineering technique to level the land for infrastructure projects for the railways, pipelines, roadways etc.
An aerial view of the Pakyong Airport. Source CN traveler
  • The construction was undertaken by Airport Authority of India (AAI).
  • At present, the terminal building of the airport can accommodate 100 passengers. The airport will allow only domestic flights, as of now. It will start international flights to neighbouring countries later, said an official.
  • The airport comes under the Civil Aviation Ministry's scheme of UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik), which aims at low-cost airline connectivity.
  • The infrastructure boasts of an ATC tower-cum-fire station, two sophisticated CFT, one terminal building for passengers, high-intensity runway lights, and parking for over 50 vehicles. It also includes a 1.75 km runway with a width of 30 meters.
  • The security of the airport, for now, will be taken up by Sikkim Police. It will serve as a critical facility for the Indian Army as it is situated only 60km away from the India-China border. The Indian Airforce will also be able to land military aircraft at the airport.
  • Spicejet will run the first commercial flight operation from Pakyong to Kolkata in the first week of October.

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