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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Silver lining for resumption of flight services in Malda

Malda, 4 February, 2015: Principal secretary of state transport department Alapan Banerjee today inspected Malda airport with the officials of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to explore the possibility of flying non-scheduled flights from here. District Magistrate Sharad Dwivedi and SP Prasun Banerjee were with them at the airport to discuss issue.

Mr Banerjee along with the general manager (engineering) of eastern zone, AAI Mr RK Joshi and in-charge of Malda airport from AAI Mr Arindam Chakraborty reached Malda airport by helicopter around 11 am today. They held a one-hour long meeting at the office of Malda airport with Mr Dwivedi and others regarding how the non-scheduled flight can fly from Malda.

Mr Banerjee said, “State government has taken initiative to arrange flight of non-scheduled flights with 20 seats. We have come to review the available infrastructure and necessary facilities required for rejuvenating Malda airport with commencement of non-schedule flights. Technical persons were also with us. We want to go ahead with opinion of all concerned.”
Principal secretary (Transport) Alapan Banerjee at Malda airport on Wednesday

“Primarily it seems that the condition of the runway of the airport is not in a very good condition. The technical part would be looked into be the concerned personnel of the AAI. The state government is quite interested in resuming flight services from Malda. Hopefully we can get an idea by next two to three months about how the matter can be materialized,” he added.

In his observation Mr Joshi said, “The runway of Malda airport is not good enough. Boundary wall of the airport is not complete yet. Area of the airport on its eastern side seems to have been encroached. We have to also see whether Malda airport has the required quantity of vacant land necessary for the flight. We have been told that there are high-rise buildings, mobile towers and chimneys of the brick-kilns around the present location of the airport. All the issues would have to taken into consideration.”

DM Mr Dwivedi said, “The infrastructure and the problems for running flight were discussed with the principal transport secretary and AAI officials. District administration would extend all sorts of cooperation in resuming flight services from Malda airport.”

The regional executive director of eastern region of AAI Mr S Bhaduri said over phone from Kolkata, “We would provide all possible support to the state government’s initiative to resume flight services from Malda and south Dinajpur airports. The infrastructure necessary for flying of non-schedule flights would be emphasized. Generally small airports can be used for non-schedule flights. The coordination and discussion with the state government would help materializing the issue.”

It may be mentioned AAI team made several visits to Malda airport before too to explore the possibility of resuming air services from Malda. In 1962 an aerodrome was set up on 144.40 acres of land near Malda town. Initially the carriage flights used to run during the season of mango harvesting. Later in 1987, flying of small aircrafts under Vayudoot service started from the aerodrome but only for two years. Subsequently, the aerodrome remained forsaken except for the flights carrying VIPs.

Notably, Presently there is virtually no runway in Malda airport. 1.39 acre of land at Jhaljhalia mouja and 5 acre of land at Maheshmati mouja owned by Malda airport have already been encroached. Boundary wall was constructed spending Rs 2 crore but that too was not complete. It has been learnt from sources that presently only 151 acre of land is available with Malda airport. Previously Malda airport authority to acquire 55 acre of land but that too could not be materialized.

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