Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Sikkim’s first own airport at Pakyong. The airport, perched between the Himalayan ranges at a height of 4,500 ft, is India’s 100th functional airport. Modi arrived in Gangtok on Sunday evening after rolling out the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM JAY) — the largest government health insurance scheme in the world — in Jharkhand.
The airport whose foundation stone was laid, around 33 km from Gangtok, in 2009 will ensure easier connectivity of the state with the rest of the country. The greenfield airport — the Northeast’s first — which has been conceived at a budget of Rs 605.59 crore is engineered to include soil reinforcement and slope stabilization techniques in the context of the altitude it has been built in.
The airport constructed by the Airports Authority of India is spread over 201 acres and is equipped with ATC tower-cum-fire station, two sophisticated CFT, one terminal building for passengers, high-intensity runway lights, parking for over 50 vehicles.
The reinforcement wall of the project is 80-meter-high, one of the tallest in the world, the chief secretary said. Pakyong Airport Director R Manjunatha said the land for the airport was carved from the mountainside using massive geotechnical ‘cut and fill’ engineering works. The first commercial flight from Pakyong would begin from October 4.