Monday, January 11, 2021

Jabs fly over Cooch Behar airport

The Trinamul Congress and the BJP have pointed fingers at each other over a stark contrast in air connectivity in districts on the Bengal-Assam border.

While the longstanding demand of residents to resume flights from Cooch Behar airport in Bengal remains unfulfilled for over 25 years, authorities have readied the aerodrome at Rupsi in Kokrajhar district of Assam to restart services after three decades.

The Cooch Behar and Kokrajhar districts are contiguous to each other.

"The Airports Authority of India is working for resumption of flights from Rupsi, while it has decided not to renew the licence for the Cooch Behar airport. Such moves show the central government’s bias against Bengal and for Assam where the BJP is in power,” said Bengal backward classes’ welfare minister and Trinamul Congress leader Binoy Krishna Burman who hails from Cooch Behar.

The Cooch Behar airport had been developed by erstwhile local royals and the flights were available till 1995.

In July 2019, a nine-seater aircraft had landed at the Cooch Behar airport for a trial run. Local BJP MP Nisith Pramanik, who was on board the flight, declared that the service would resume soon. But there was an impasse between the central and state governments and the flights didn’t take off.

The absence of flights prompted the AAI to decide that it would not apply with the Director General of Civil Aviation for the renewal of the airport’s licence that is valid till January 27 this year. The move was to curb expenses.

The scene is completely different at Rupsi, located around 70km from Cooch Behar. The AAI that had initiated the work in February 2019 developed a terminal of 3,500 square metres. It has 10 check-in counters and can handle 200 passengers in an hour.

11/01/21 Telegraph

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