Tura, Feb 12: A crucial demand to boost air connectivity between Garo Hills and North Bengal with three major metropolitan cities of the country, namely Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata, has been made to the union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya M Scindia by a Joint Movement Committee for Corridor group that wants Tura, namely Baljek airport in Jengjal, to start operation of the ATR 72 flights linking it to Balurghat airfield and from there onwards to the three cities of the country.
Last week, members of the Joint Movement Committee for Corridor from Balurghat – Hili- Mahendraganj- Tura (Meghalaya) through Bangladesh led by its convenor Naba Kumar Das sought the intervention of the civil aviation ministry to kickstart the revival of Garo Hills’ Jengjal and Balurghat airports that will benefit the population of North east (Garo Hills) and North Bengal (Balurghat).
Thousands of students from Garo Hills, as well as North Bengal, travel to the cities of Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore for higher studies and work, every year and depend solely on Guwahati airport for direct flights.
While Baljek airport in Jengjal was inaugurated in 2008 by President Pratibha Patel but unfortunately has remained without any flights, the Balurghat airport dates back to almost 75 long years.
From 1949 to 1960 Balurghat airport had three regular air transport services- namely Air Transport, Sky Plies and Surekha Transport. The air service boosted the economy of the region and helped link up many of the region’s inaccessible and far flung areas.
It’s been 64 years since its closure in 1960 and the Joint movement committee is demanding that it be revived since Garo Hills’ Jengjal airport is in the vicinity and there has been a tremendous rise in the number of fliers from Garo Hills region.
A crucial component for reviving the Balurghat airport is raising the length of the runway to 1900 meters and the committee is urging upon the union aviation ministry to do the needful for the start of operations.
The committee had raised the same demand to the union government in August of 2023.
With Baljek airport in Jengjal (Tura) already having the required runway length for landing and take off by ATR planes and Balurghat having already operated such flights 64 years ago, the demand for revival is only going to get louder in the days to come.
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