The long-cherished dream of having air-connectivity of the proper order of the people of Arunachal Pradesh was today fulfilled with flagging off of the first fixed-wing commercial aircraft from Pasighat to Guwahati by Chief Minister Pema Khandu here today.
“Today is a historic day and I congratulate the people of Arunachal in general and people of Pasighat in particular for this new milestone that would remain engraved in history as a huge step in the development of our state,” said Khandu in a simple ceremony at the civilian terminal of the Pasighat airport.
On persuasion of the state government after Khandu came to hold the mantle, the Air India Ltd agreed to start ATR-42 services of Alliance Air to Pasighat from Gopinath Bordoloi airport at Guwahati, connecting the state with rest of the country.
Khandu profusely thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Minister for Civil Aviation and officials of the ministry for fast-tracking the project.
“With Modiji at the helm and his concern in the sector of connectivity for the North East has enabled us to fulfill a dream,” he said.
In the second round of bidding i.e. RCS UDAN-2, 8 (eight) locations in Arunachal Pradesh have been selected by bidders, out of which Pasighat & Tezu have been selected for fixed wing while Ziro, Daporijo, Itanagar, Tuting, Wallong and Yingkiong have been selected for helicopter services.
Air-Connectivity by fixed wing and rotary wing under RCS at the aforesaid locations will start after necessary formalities and fulfilment of some statutory requirements.
“Next in the line is Tezu,” Khandu informed.
He said with air connectivity, economy of the state will take a boost and major gainer will be the foothill areas, where productivity is better than rest of the state with inaccessible mountains.
Khandu expressed hope that in the near future cargo services will also be introduced that will immensely help the farmers of the foothills in marketing their produces.
While hailing the residents of Pasighat for donating land free of cost for the airport, he appealed them to dream big and show the same zest in making land available for a Boeing aircraft to land in Pasighat.
The 42-seater Alliance Air ATR will fly between Guwahati and Pasighat thrice a week for the start. Besides Alliance Air, which is a subsidiary of Air India, Zoom Air and Turbo Jet are set to commence their services in the state soon as formalities are being chalked up at the moment.
The State Government is also in the process of hiring a small 8-10 seater fixed wing aircraft under Chief Minister’s Air Connectivity Scheme to connect some other locations including Mechuka.
Arunachal Pradesh, in fact, had air-transport facility right from the pre-Independence period and many helipads and Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs)/airstrips were built for defence as well as civil purposes. There are about 120 helipads and 10 ALGs (Ziro, Pasighat, Aalo,Tuting, Mechuka, Vijaynagar, Walong, Tezu, Daporijo and Alinye) in the state. Earlier in the eighties, small fixed wing aircrafts called Vayudoot also operated in some of such airstrips like Ziro, Aalo, Pasighat, Tezu etc. for civil passenger services.
Earlier in the morning, Khandu along with Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, State legislative Assembly Speaker T N Thongdok and other cabinet ministers and legislators became the first passengers of the maiden flight from Guwahati airport after a brief ceremony. They landed at Pasighat two hours twenty minutes after taking off from Guwahati at 12.44 noon.
The flagging-off ceremony was also attended by ministers and legislators, Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary Civil Aviation (GoI), Lalit Gupta, Deputy Director General, Civil Aviation (GoI) and officials and representatives from Indian Air Force, Air India and the state government.