Agartala: A new airport would be coming up at Kailashahar, the headquarters of Unakoti district in Tripura, to boost air connectivity, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said on Saturday.

The state government will provide 500 acres of land in Hiracherra tea estate to build the new airport at Kailashahar, about 140 km from here, at an estimated cost of Rs. 500 to Rs 700 crore, he said.

Deb was speaking at a programme of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) here.

A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed with the Central government to hand over land for the new airport in place of the abandoned airport, the chief minister said.

Once the land is transferred, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will give another airport to the people of the state, he said.

The area of the abandoned Kailashahar airport is very small and there is hardly any scope for expansion of the runway and other facilities, Deb said.

The old airport located near the Indo-Bangla border has been shut down since the early 90s on account of a lack of adequate passengers.

Highlighting the development in air connectivity in the state over the past four years, the chief minister said there was a time when people had to stay overnight in Kolkata to reach Delhi.

But the scenario has completely changed now as one can reach Delhi within two hours and 20 minutes. Tripura is connected by air with big cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata apart from Guwahati, and Imphal, he said.

Deb also mentioned the state’s strategic location with Bangladesh and other Southeast Asian nations.

Pointing out that Sabroom will become a prominent industrial belt in the future, the chief minister said with Maitri Setu’ (friendship bridge) constructed over river Feni between Sabroom in South Tripura district and Ramgarh in Bangladesh, a Special Economic Zone all set to be created, and an Integrated Check Post to be set up in the border town, one can easily imagine how much the trade volume will become at Sabroom in the days to come.

Deb added the state has witnessed a major change as far as connectivity is concerned, be it rail, national highways, waterways, or airways.

The Ministry of Shipping has already sanctioned Rs. 25 crore for setting up 10 jetties from Udaipur to Sonamura and undertaking dredging in the river Gomati to operationalise the Indo-Bangla waterway project, he said.

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