Pakyong: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took a dig at the erstwhile UPA government while inaugurating Sikkim’s first airport, saying that only 65 airports were inaugurated from the time when India gained Independence till 2014, which means on an average one airport was built per year.

Addressing a public meeting after inaugurating the first greenfield airport of Sikkim at Paykong, PM Modi said: “Today 100 airports have become functional. Of these, 35 airports have been added in the last four years. From Independence till 2014, i.e. in 67 years, the country could have only 65 airports, which means one airport was built every year on an average. In the past four years, nine airports have been prepared per year on an average”.

“400 planes in the last 70 years and air travel companies have ordered 1,000 planes in the last one year. This will fulfil my dream in which a common man wearing slippers could afford air travel,” he added.

Saying that the country has “scored a century today” with the inauguration of Pakyong Airport, the prime minister said that the airport will make it easier for common man to travel to and from Sikkim.

“Planes have reached for the first time (in Sikkim). Rail connectivity has reached for the first time. In many places, electricity has reached for the first time.
Broad national highways, village roads, bridges on rivers are being constructed. Digital India’s expansion is taking place,” he said.

Sikkim’s dream of having an airport came true nine years after a foundation stone for it was laid here, around 33 km from state capital Gangtok, in 2009.

The first commercial flight from Pakyong would begin from October 4.

Pakyong airport will pave the way for direct connectivity to Sikkim and is the 100th airport of the country.

Located around 60 km from the Indo-China border, the airport is spread across over 201 acres and is located on the top of a hill about two km above Pakyong village at 4,500 feet above sea level, Sikkim Chief Secretary A K Srivastava said.