Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu Tuesday expressed satisfaction over the progress of construction work of a greenfield airport at Hollongi near here, despite challenges arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Khandu who visited the site of the ambitious project, 15 km from here, told reporters that work on 1,500 metres of the 2,300 metre-long runway has been completed.

Earlier the completion target of the project, the foundation of which was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was November 2022 which has been changed to August 2022.

Once commissioned, the airport will be the first in the state with a runway of 2300 metres, suitable for the landing and take-off of Boeing 747 aircraft.

This is a dream project of the entire population of Arunachal Pradesh. We need to thank the Central government for extending all-out support in fulfilling the dream We also need to appreciate all the agencies that are working day and night to meet the deadline despite hurdles, he said.

Presently, no airport exists in the vicinity of Itanagar, the closest one being Lilabari Airport in Assam, which is at a distance of 80 km from here.

Mentioning that a pre-fabricated terminal building would be in place by early next year, Khandu said, The building will be temporary while construction of a permanent building will continue. Once the permanent structure is ready, the temporary one will be utilised as cargo area.

The chief minister also said that keeping in view the possibilities of future expansion, the government has acquired about 500 sq metres of land beyond the runway while the Kokila river that runs along the airport boundary is being diverted.

There are no external hurdles and work is going on smoothly. The agencies are working on a few internal issues, Khandu said.

Later, the chief minister held an internal review meeting with all project stakeholders during which he was informed that the passenger terminal, with an area of 4,100 sq metres, will be able to handle 200 passengers during peak hours.

While the acquisition of the required five acres of land on the Assam side, shifting of 132 KV power grid line, and diversion of Kokila river are going on, about 74 per cent work has been done on building the four-lane approach road to the airport, which would be completed by January 31 next.

The project executioners told the chief minister that ongoing works were affected due to the COVD-19 situation, particularly during the second phase of the lockdown, leading to non-availability of construction materials, and machinery parts in nearby areas.

Work agencies could not maintain sufficient manpower at the project site at that time, they said.

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