AGARTALA, Aug 8 - The Union Government has sought 52 acres of land from Bangladesh to expand the runway and approach road of the Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport, the second busiest airport of the North Eastern region.
The existing airport runway extends to two-and-a-half kilometres, which is suitable for medium-sized aircraft alone.
As the airport will get a new terminal with the capacity to handle 1,200 passengers, the Government has plans to convert it into an international airport with an eye on Bangladesh and Myanmar.
“There is an urgent need to increase the existing runway of the Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport to ensure safe handling of larger aircraft. That is why additional land is required,” said a senior official of the Transport Department here today.
“The end point of the existing runway (Lankamure) is only 10 to 12 feet away from the Indo-Bangladesh zero line. Therefore, there is no alternative other than seeking land from Bangladesh for expansion of the runway. The matter has already been taken up by the Centre with Dhaka,” he revealed. But the matter has not gained pace yet, he added.
The State Government is contemplating to take up the issue with the Ministry of External Affairs so that the Bangladesh Government agrees to providing land at Hirapur village in Brahmanbaria for expansion of the runway. The approach road and lighting projects are also pending due to scarcity of land in the vicinity.
It is expected that the new terminal of the airport, along with two hangers and aprons, will be made operational by January. These works were supposed to be completed by June, but the AAI could not meet the deadline due to various reasons.
Out of the total passengers using the airport in Tripura, around 60 per cent flyers are from Bangladesh. Bangladesh nationals use this airport to go to Kolkata, Delhi or Guwahati for economy travel.