Planning Commission member assures expediting airport process

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Gangtok, May 21 (UNI) The Planning Commission has assured of expediting the process for constructing the greenfield airport at Pakyong in Sikkim and already sanctioned fund for developing it.

Planning Commission member Anwarul Hoda said here yesterday that he would take up the matter of expediting the process at the appropriate level on the request of state Tourism Minister R B Subba.

Mr Hoda, looking after Tourism and Transport in the Commission, was on a visit to the state to have a first hand knowledge on how the tourism sector was faring in the state.

The member said the Commission had already sanctioned Rs 316 crore for the construction and added that there should not be any delay in the process.

He assured of looking into what was delaying the construction of the airport project.

Though the fund had been sanctioned by the Planning Commission, the airport was still at the initial process with the acquisition of land at Pakyong, some 30 km away from Gangtok.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had been entrusted with the task of constructing the airport.

AAI had already prepared a detailed project report on the Pakyong greenfield airport.

'' Sikkim has great scope for tourism and is doing well. For vibrant tourism connectivity is essential and for this the airport project should not be delayed, '' he opined.

Mr Hoda also assured of taking up the matter at the Centre for opening Nathu La for tourism on the request of the state Tourism Minister.

He said while the matter was a bilateral issue to be taken up by both governments, the Commission would relay the demand of the state for opening up of the border for tourism to the appropriate authorities at the Centre.

'' If tourism is permitted through Nathu La, this will be the shortest distance to Kailash and Mansarovar, '' he informed.

UNI BG SJC RN1757

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