A tale of two airports

It is disheartening to know that no airline is ready to start operation from the newly constructed Tezu airport in Lohit district. The news has come as a major setback for the people of the state. Tezu town, which is centrally located in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, has the potential to be developed as the air hub of the region. The lack of interest exhibited by the airline operators will hurt the efforts to improve air connectivity in the state. The Tezu airport was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his last visit to the state in February this year. Under the UDAN scheme of the union civil aviation ministry, the airport was supposed to provide air connectivity.
The failure to get airline operators on board to start service is a huge slap on the face of the central as well as the state government. Further, the progress of the proposed greenfield airport in Hollongi, near state capital Itanagar, is very slow. PM Modi had laid the foundation stone for the airport during the time when he had inaugurated the Tezu airport. Though the land acquisition process has been completed, the most critical aspect of shifting the Chakma-Hajong refugees to an alternative site has not been completed till date. This has put a huge question mark over the fate of the airport. Until these families, who are living inside the territory earmarked for the airport, are shifted out, the actual work cannot be started. The state government should speed up the process of shifting them out at the earliest, so that ground work can start. The civil aviation ministry has set an ambitious target of March 2022 as the deadline to complete the Hollongi airport, and in order to achieve that target the work has to be started as soon as possible.