Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday dedicated Sikkim's first greenfield airport at Pakyong to the nation and said it was a historic day for the hill state as well as the country.Sikkim chief Minister Pawan Chamling and Union Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu were also present during the ceremony.
With the inauguration of this airport, the country currently has 100 airports, Modi said.
"It is a historic day not only for Sikkim but also an important day for the country. Our country now has 100 airports. Since Independence till 2014, the country had only 65 airports but in the past four years, we have set up 35 more airports," Modi said.
The Prime Minister was addressing a gathering at a school ground here after inaugurating the airport.
"We are committed to making the Northeast as engine of India's growth story. For the first time since Independence, stress has been given on increasing connectivity by both air and rail, electricity in remote areas of the Northeast and building infrastructure," he said.
Sikkim's dream of having an airport came true nine years after the foundation stone for it was laid here, around 33 km from state capital Gangtok, in 2009.
The airport, which was constructed by the Airports Authority of India, is spread over 201 acres and is located on top of a hill about two kms above Pakyong village at 4,500 feet above sea level, Sikkim Chief Secretary A K Srivastava said.
An estimated cost of Rs 605 crore was incurred in the construction of the airport, Srivastava said.
Integrated structures comprising an ATC tower-cum-fire station, two sophisticated CFT, one terminal building for passengers, high-intensity runway lights, parking for over 50 vehicles are some of the features of the airport, the chief secretary said.
The Pakyong airport is located around 60 km from the Indo-China border.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) would be able to land various types of aircraft on the airport's runway with the construction of another 75-metre stretch adjacent to the main runway in the coming days, the chief secretary said.
The first commercial flight from Pakyong would begin from October 4.