GUWAHATI, May 23 - Work has commenced to revive the Rupsi airport, a World War II air base located about 15 km from Dhubri town, which has remained defunct since years now.
There are no air bases of the IAF in western Assam as of now and geo-politically and militarily, the Rupsi airport is of immense importance.
“The piling works have begun. The labour sheds have been completed. The laboratory building and site offices are in progress,” Airports Authority of India Regional Executive Director DK Kamra told The Assam Tribune.
Around Rs 70 crore would be spent to revive the airport and the works are expected to be completed in about a year’s time, he said.
“The terminal will be around 3,500 sq metres. It will be used for flights to be operated under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS). Once completed, ATR 72 aircraft can operate from it,” Kamra said.
The airport has a 6,000 feet runway, most of which has been filled with jungle now.
Sources said last time carpetting work was done in the airport was in 1938.
As part of the plan, the IAF and AAI will jointly develop the airport for both civil and IAF flight operations.
Sources said the IAF is also looking at the possibility of extending the present runway from 6,000 feet to about 10,000 feet to suit operation of fighter planes, provided land is available.
The sources said besides civil operations, the airport will initially be revamped to suit logistic requirement of the defence like transportation of troops and weapons, strategic lifts, etc., and the possibility of operating fighter jets will depend on if the runway can be extended.
The Rupsi airport was constructed during the World War II by the British to supply arms, manpower and ammunition to the Allies to fight against the Axis.
The airport covers an area of 447 acres and has a single terminal with a paved runway of about 6,000 feet. IAF sources said “looking at the airport, it appears that during the World War II fighter aircraft had operated from here.”
The Rupsi airport is also of importance from the Bangladesh point of view as it is not far from the Indo-Bangla border. The airport will give close access for civil and military aircraft to some airports in Bangladesh.