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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Silchar airport lacks basic passenger facilities

SILCHAR, Nov 29: The Kumbhirgram Airport, 22 km from here, set against scenic and idyllic Borail hill ranges and lush green tea bushes does boast of a modernized terminal building, equipped with suitable user friendly services. It can accommodate 300 passengers at a time. But, complaints are mounting from the passengers about the lack of basic amenities to their discomfort and inconvenience. Airport Authority of India which looks after the upkeep of the airport is blamed for overlooking passengers’ problems.

For security reasons, the only canteen inside the airport building has been closed down with no alternative arrangement. Official version is that AAI is the competent authority to explain the closure of the canteen. All the airports in Northeast are on high alert with foolproof security cover. As an AAI source said disruptive elements might make use of the canteen although passengers have to pass through strict check to get in. Delayed flights in particular irritate passengers as they can not get either water or refreshment. Anjan Roy Choudhury, a businessman, shares the ordeal of the passengers.

Even drinking water arrangement is not hygienic as the purifier machine is out of order. Potable water that filters through only machine installed is muddy and unfit for consumption. No signboard has been put up to caution the passengers not to use the water. Toilets both for incoming and outgoing passengers are in bad condition. Stinking and overflowing flushed out water due to poor sanitary arrangement, toilets are irritating for passengers to use. Disinfectants are hardly used. No efforts are being made to improve the situation.

Strangely enough, night landing of flights at the airport is yet to become operational even after 10 months of the building up of necessary infrastructure.

According to airport sources, the Director General of Airport Traffic Control has not given the clearance. Besides installation of required tools and equipment, the runway has been extended by another 2000 feet to accommodate airbus. Apron has also been extended by another 150 feet.

At present, Air India, Alliance Air and Kingfisher operate daily flights to Kolkata, Imphal and Guwahati from here and on an average around 1 lakh passengers are in and out bound. The delay in the commissioning of night landing of aircrafts, an insider says, is due to the non-installation of sophisticated navigational and visual aids. THE SENTINEL

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