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It is in this context that we must play a little riddle. What a person should do to arrest this beauty? The answer is really very simple. Just click it. And that is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi did on arriving in Sikkim, a land that he described as “Serene and Splendid”.  

Coming to Sikkim to translate the dream of every Sikkimese to have an airport of their own into a reality, the Prime Minister just could not resist the temptation of turning a photographer. He clicked the camera to preserve the beauty of Sikkim.

Let us play with yet another riddle?

 What is the 100th operational airport in India? The answer is Pakyong Airport of Sikkim. To be the 100th in anything is a matter of luck. And Pakyong Airport is lucky in this sense. The airport was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in the presence of Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, the Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu.

The most significant aspect of the Pakyong Airport, spread over 201 acres and located atop a hill about two kilometers above Pakyong village at 4,500 feet above the sea level, is that this 100th airport is extremely vital to the security of India as it lies just 60 kilometer away from the Indo-China border.

 Strategic Importance of Pakyong Airport

This airport, though operating under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, is capable of being used to defend India in war-time as the Indian Air Force fighter jets can be operated from here.

A part of the Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim touches Tibet in the North and Northeast, Bhutan in the East and Nepal in the West. The state is just 120 kilometer from the Chicken’s Neck: Siliguri in West Bengal.

We know during the Chinese War of 1962, hectic efforts were taken by the country’s Communist government to wring the Chicken’s Neck to disconnect the entire mainland India from the Northeastern India. After the Doklam tussle, India needs to be very cautious about the intentions of China.

We know the communists are known globally to be unpredictable and changing their colours like the chameleons. Don’t we know the communists like the colour red and red is the colour of danger. Neither friendship nor enmity is advisable for the communists.

As Sikkim is also very close to Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh, this airport is extremely vital for security purposes.

On March 5, 2018, the Indian Air Force tested the landing and takeoff of Dornier-228 aircraft from Pakyong airport. The test was successful proving worthiness of the airport for defence purposes.

 Boosting Tourism of a “Serene and Splendid” Land

The tourism industry of Sikkim is poised to take a giant leap forward with the opening of the Pakyong Airport. The Spicejet conducted its test runs of the 78-seater Bombardier Q400 from Kolkata to Pakyong on March 10, 2018. The airlines will operate daily flights to Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati.

The international flights will also connect Sikkim with Paro in Bhutan, Kathmandu in Nepal and Dhaka in Bangladesh. The Druk Air of Bhutan is going to launch its Paro- Pakyong service from 1st January 2019.  

Amlan Home Chowdhury

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