SHILLONG: The government is eagerly awaiting the results of a feasibility report to determine whether Umroi Airport can be enhanced to accommodate larger aircraft, beyond the current ATR and Bombardier models.
The state’s Transport Minister, Sniawbhalang Dhar, revealed that the government is giving the newly appointed consultants a two-month window to submit their findings.
“The new consultants have requested us to give them two months’ time (to submit the feasibility report). When they submit the report, only then can we make a decision,” Minister Dhar told the press.
The primary objective is to make Umroi Airport suitable for accommodating bigger aircraft, but the final decision will hinge on the report’s findings. Dhar stressed on the need to identify how larger aircraft can be facilitated and mentioned that additional land for expansion might be necessary based on the report’s recommendations.
In the past, land acquisition efforts were focused on removing two hillocks, which were seen as potential obstacles for accommodating larger aircraft. However, these efforts were temporarily halted due to the exorbitant costs associated with hillock removal.
The development surrounding Umroi Airport’s potential upgrade began with an order from the Meghalaya High Court in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) subsequently announced plans to conduct a comprehensive survey to assess the feasibility of handling wider-bodied aircraft. The LiDAR (light detection and ranging) survey, which is likely to be outsourced, is a significant step towards the goal of extending the airport’s capabilities.
The court order expressed optimism about the potential of a larger airport in the state, as it could reduce the substantial travel costs incurred by individuals traveling between Guwahati and Shillong. Additionally, it raised the prospect of having an international airport within Meghalaya, which could bolster the state’s connectivity and accessibility.
In a related development, the government is also in the process of expanding the Baljek Airport in the Garo Hills region, although progress on this front has been relatively slow.