NPP Nagaland’s Stand on Proposed Airport by State Government
Dimapur, February 15 (NE): The present imbroglio on the issue of an upgraded and international airport in Nagaland has brought to the fore the urgent issue that needs to be addressed so that there are no doubts left in the minds of the general public without creating any bias. This stand by National People’s Party, (NPP), Nagaland has to be taken in the most optimistic and mature way by all and sundry as per a notification received here on February Fifteen.
A notification said that Dimapur, known as the corridor to Nagaland and also to Manipur and a major area of Karbi Anglong and Golaghat in Assam. It is the central hub of all businesses and developmental activities. But sadly, some of the leaders do not understand relevance of Dimapur City as being pivotal for the growth and development of entire state.
Subsequent governments have skirted the issue of giving due relevance to the importance of Dimapur as being the hub of all commercial activities which brings in favourable revenue to the government. The Dimapur Railway Station which is one of the oldest Railway Stations in the North East and has a status of being in the 2nd position in terms of revenue earning railway station under the NFR and in terms of Per-Capita Rail Income being undisputedly in the first place. Whereas, Dimapur is a far smaller town in comparison with Guwahati. But still the Ministry of Railways has not given due privilege to only Railway Station and much of it is due to a lack of effective pressure from the State Government to upgrade Dimapur to at least a Sub-Division under NFR due to which Dimapur has always been under whims of Lumding Division or Tinsukia Division. Moreover, due to the lackadaisical attitude, Dimapur Railway Station is mostly in pathetic condition and Train Coaches are very unhygienic and not up to the standards. The State Government should demand more sophisticated and modern trains & coaches with ultra-modern facilities and proper maintenance as development of Dimapur Railway Station has to be in due earnest and not just a cosmetic face-lift.
Also there are very few trains which originate from Dimapur itself and people of Nagaland do not get proper quota of train tickets on time and during rush hours due to syndicalism in issue of ticket quotas whereby tickets are booked by agents in Bokajan and other places of Assam before passengers in Dimapur or other parts of Nagaland get the advantage.
Now in the context of the airport issue, NPP urges the present Government to take a matured stand by concentrating on upgrading the existing Airport at Dimapur to an International Airport as the feasibility of an Airport at the proposed site of Chiethu by the State Government is full of loopholes and utterly doubtful.
Firstly, the proposed airport project in Chiethu will mean bulldozing and clearing off the area for building the airport which will not only be time consuming but also it will mean unnecessary spending of crores of rupees. Can one afford such an exorbitant project at the present condition where the state is even mulling cutting down in the salaries of the government employees? The present Airport in Dimapur stands a far greater chance of being upgraded to an international airport with much lesser funds and resources.
Secondly, even if the proposed airport at Chiethu becomes a reality by leaps and bounds, it will not be convenient for many commuters from Nagaland itself to spend additional fares to reach Kohima and then fly in an airplane. In this regard, Dimapur not only caters to the commuters from Nagaland but also to those from nearby areas of Karbi Anglong and Upper Assam to a considerable extent. “Do one expect those commuters to take an additional burden of travelling up to Kohima to fly to other destinations?”, questioned NPP.
Consideration has to be made also of the deplorable road conditions, land-slides and traffic jams leading upto Kohima from Dimapur. Here, the leaders have to be realistic and not biased in favor of a particular tribe, region or district for that matter, it felt.
Thirdly, considering the hilly terrain and other such ardous geographical conditions of the proposed airport site at Chiethu, it would be really difficult for international flights to land and take off from the airport especially when Kohima district faces long monsoon seasons and is mostly covered in a thick blanket of mist and fog. Think about the long hours of delay that will be caused due to these external factors like weather, terrain and the biggest factor being the safety of the passengers. When one again talk of Dimapur Airport, there have been little or no delay in flights till date due to adverse weather conditions as the weather of Dimapur is mostly clear and visibility is much higher as compared to any hilly area in Nagaland which makes it a more favourable and safer airport. In addition to this, international and domestic flights on bigger aeroplanes would be very difficult and almost impossible to maneuver at high altitudes, mountainous terrains and adverse weather conditions thus limiting the airport to smaller airplanes only.
Lastly, the present airport at Dimapur is well connected with the Railway Station and all nearby bus and taxi stands while also being the nearest to the National Highway-29 making it a much favoured airport. Shifting the present airport to other far-off places like Ruzhaphe and Chiethu will mean neglecting the convenience of a majority section of the people and sacrificing their comfort over the selfish aspirations of a certain section of tribe or community. This also brings one to a grim reminder of history, said a release issued by NPP Nagaland President, Andrew Ahoto Sema.