ITANAGAR, 19 Nov: The long wait for direct commercial air connectivity to Itanagar, the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh, is over, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the ‘Donyi Polo Airport Itanagar’ in Hollongi, and dedicating the 600 megawatt (mw) Kameng hydropower station in West Kameng district to the nation on Saturday, amid thousands of people.
The prime minister had laid the foundation stone of the airport on 9 February, 2019.
“The launch of Donyi Polo airport is a resounding reply to the critics who tried to term the foundation stone of the airport an election gimmick,” Modi said in his speech.
“Political commentators and the critics should stop seeing everything through a political prism,” he said, adding that he works for the growth of the nation, instead of indulging in political gimmickry.
“The priority of the government is the development of the states. I am starting the day in the state of the rising sun, and I will end the day where the sun sets in India, in Daman, and in between, I will be in Kashi,” he said.
“The Donyi Polo airport is witness to the history and culture of Arunachal Pradesh,” Modi said.
Drawing an analogy between the light of the sun and the moon and the development of the state, the prime minister said that “the development of the airport is as important as the development of the poor.”
He said that, with the development of the new airport infrastructure, “it will create huge opportunities in the field of cargo services.
“As a result, the farmers of the state can now sell their produce to bigger markets,” he said, adding that the farmers of the state are reaping the benefits of the PM’s Kisan Nidhi.
The prime minister said also that the “Donyi Polo airport will be the fourth operational airport for Arunachal Pradesh, taking the total airport count in the Northeast region to 16.”
“From 1947 to 2014, only nine airports were built in the Northeast. In a short span of the last eight years, seven airports have been built in the Northeast,” he said.
The PM said that the central government is going to spend another Rs 50,000 crore in the near future for infrastructure development in Arunachal, and stressed the need for proper connectivity to the remote areas of the state to boost the state’s tourism potential.
The prime minister also recalled his frequent visits to Arunachal, and praised the commitment of the people of Arunachal for the development of the state.
The airport has been built on 694 acres of land, at a cost of Rs 645 crore. It has a 2,300-metre runway, and is suitable for all-weather day operations.
The airport’s terminal is a modern building which promotes energy efficiency, renewable energy, and recycling of resources. It has a capacity of accommodating 300 passengers at a time, and a parking space for MI-17 helicopters.
“Today is a joyous and historic day for the people of Arunachal Pradesh. Three years ago, Prime Minister Modi came to lay the foundation stone of the greenfield airport. Though the Covid pandemic created havoc, within a span of three years, the prime minister himself has flown from Delhi and inaugurated the Donyi Polo airport. It’s a proud moment for every Arunachali,” said Chief Minister Pema Khandu in his address.
“In the connectivity sector, the prime minister has given top priority to the Northeast and Arunachal. I would like to thank the prime minister for making functional nine advanced landing grounds from the 1960s functional,” Khandu added.
“With the airport being operational, the state’s economic and tourism activities will be boosted rapidly,” he said.
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju in his address said: “Many years ago, it was just a dream to have our own airport. Today, the prime minister himself has made it a reality by inaugurating the airport. It is the biggest gift to the people of Arunachal.”
Governor BD Mishra, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, Legislative Assembly Speaker PD Sona, parliamentarians Tapir Gao and Nabam Rebia, state BJP president Biyuram Wahge, and MLA Tana Hali were among the dignitaries on the dais with the prime minister.
The inaugural event was livestreamed across the state. (With inputs from PMO)