Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling urged Union Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju to ensure that the Greenfield airport at Pakyong becomes functional at the earliest.
Chamling said this when the Union minister called on him at his official residence here. During the meeting, Chamling apprised Raju of the importance of the Greenfield airport at Pakyong, which is located about 35 km away from Gangtok, a State government official said.
The chief minister told the minister that local people as well as the defence sector would be benefited once the airport becomes operational, as Sikkim is a hilly and a landlocked state with an international border, the official said.
Since the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is solely responsible for construction, operation and maintenance of the Pakyong airport, Chamling drew Raju's attention to look into payments against damages and compensation to the affected people surrounding the airport area, he said. Hundreds of families living in and around the airport area are agitating and demanding compensation as per land acquisition rules, official sources said. Earlier, the Union minister also visited Governor Shrinivas Patil at the Raj Bhawan.
The civil aviation minister and senior officials of his ministry are on a two-day visit to Sikkim to oversee the status of the airport at Pakyong, built at an estimated cost of Rs 300 crore, the official said. The Greenfield airport at Pakyong, Sikkim's first, was approved by the Centre in 2008. Construction of the airport has been completed this year, the official