How tough was it to give Sikkim its first ever airport

Gangtok: Flying straight to Sikkim is soon going to be a reality as the Himalayan state has got its first ever airport.

The Pakyong Airport is a Greenfield airport near Gangtok, which would not only promote tourism and open up opportunities for the Sikkimese people, but will also provide airlift facility during emergencies and disasters.

The airport now circumvents the need for a five-hour journey through mountainous roads and brings citizens of Sikkim closer to the state capital, Gangtok.

But, how challenging was it for the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to put the tiny hilly state on the aviation map of the country?
Pakyong Greenfield Airport project was unique and challenging. There were steep slopes on the project site, the region receives high rainfall and there were existing water channels along the project site.

The team at the AAI came up with innovative solutions. A ‘Cut and Fill’ method was used to ensure that the same material cut from the uphill side was used to fill the downhill side, eliminating waste and also reducing cost.

Environment-friendly reinforcements like Gabyon and Geo-grids were used to ensure a stable and long lasting fill reinforcement. The existing water streams were smoothly channeled under the airport with no impact on the water flow.

Pakyong Airport boasts of the highest environment-friendly retaining wall in Asia and is one of the finest engineering feats of the AAI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will soon be inaugurating the New Greenfield Airport at Pakyong. It is a shining feather in the cap of UDAN – a one of its kind Regional Connectivity Scheme which in its first phase would provide air connectivity to 27 smaller towns across India.