In Assam: On May 8, because the furious second wave of the pandemic gripped the country, a 72-seater plane touched down the tarmac of AN field in lower province, to a water cannon salute. The 24 passengers the UN agency landed were talented samosas and aronais (Bodo scarves), amid muted cheers of the tiny crowd gathered there. ‘Welcome to Rupsi airport’ they were told.
“There was a reason to celebrate,” same Jyotirmoy Chakraborty, a journalist and resident of Dhubri city, settled fifteen klicks from the field. “The flight to Rupsi would become a vicinity of history.”
Thank You all🙏
Your support, cooperation, love and our services will make #RupsiAirport a pleasant experience.#NorthEast #Assam #aviation @MoCA_GoI @MDoNER_India @CMOfficeAssam @PIB_Guwahati @AAI_Official @diprassam pic.twitter.com/e8O9wQSOnj
— Rupsi Airport, Assam (@aairupairport) May 9, 2021
Located in the Kokrajhar district, near the border of Dhubri district. Rupsi was once a strategic field that housed warplanes throughout war II. when lying abandoned for many years, it absolutely was finally redeveloped beneath the Central government’s UDAN theme for regional property last month, orthography hope for not simply lower province, that borders Bangladesh, however Bengal and Meghalaya too.
“To catch a flight we have a tendency to had to travel 300km to Guwahati or to Siliguri in Bengal, 250km away. This simply took six to seven hours — a period typically longer than the flight itself,” same Chakraborty.
A strategic field Rupsi Airport in Assam
Built on virtually three,000 bighas of garden land by the British, Rupsi became a strategic location for the Allied forces throughout War II. “It was settled within the middle of a jungle and was excellent for warplanes. the British engineered concerning 52 unseeable hangars in Rupsi — these met strategic and operational needs for the war,” same Bijay Sharma, author and journalist from Dhubri.
Masud Albizia saman, an attorney primarily based in Dhubri, same that Rupsi was probably the longest field in Asia throughout the planet war. “People forget however vital it absolutely was — this was the nerve center, the availability line supply for forces in Myanmar and China,” he said.
However, many developments light-emitting diode to its decline post-independence. ”The Bangladesh Liberation war in 1971 light-emitting diode to completely different protocols within the newly-formed country, and therefore the frequency of visits by businessmen from Bangladesh reduced significantly. Following that was the Emergency,” same Sharma.
Chakraborty adscititious that the anti-‘foreigner’ province Agitation, that started in 1979, conjointly contend a vicinity in deceleration down travel city. “Then came the Bodo movement that created the realm a lot of sensitive,” he said. it absolutely was unfortunate as a result of Dhubri, a stream port, had been the entranceway to the Northeast throughout the British era, and thriving space for trade.
“Moreover, this a part of province continually had a decent reference to Bengal…Kolkata whether or not it absolutely was for marriages or business,” same Trinayan Bhuyan, SDPO, Kokrajhar, UN agency was earlier the Deputy SP in Dhubri.
In 1983, the last business flight took far away from Dhubri to Guwahati. within the years that followed, the field became defunct, abandoned, and overrun by weeds and underbrush.
A push for revival In Assam
Just as however completely different political events light-emitting diode to the decline of Rupsi. it absolutely was political pressure once more that light-emitting diode to its reopening —through the years. many politicians from the lower province, likewise as civil society teams, well-kept the demand for the field.
Nearly 15 years past, Chakraborty, Sharma and a number of similar residents (businessmen, journalists, social workers) of Dhubri shaped the ‘Rupsi field Revival Demand Committee’. “It had just one objective – to create planes fly from Rupsi,” Chakraborty same.
Politicians like AIUDF’s Badruddin Ajmal, UN agency is AN MP from the Dhubri Lok Sabha seat, contend a job within the revival, writing to completely different ministries, asking queries within the Lok Sabha, to push for the field.
Bimal Oswal, a member of the field revival committee, same the field (located fifteen klicks removed from Dhubri, and seventy klicks from Bodo Territorial Council headquarters, Kokrajhar) was crucial as a result of the lower in Assam, that borders Bangladesh, is just about stop from the remainder of the state. “Dhubri has low development, poor property and communication. thus folks don’t visit here simply – furthermore there area unit heaps of scholars UN agency area unit currently outside, for them it’s troublesome,” he said.
In 2017, once the civil aviation ministry’s UDAN theme was proclaimed there was a revived hope for Rupsi. “A range of legislators like Hagrama Mohilary, Badaruddin Ajmal, UG Brahma unbroken the pressure up,” same Chakraborty, “The second Bodo accord, that was signed in 2003, conjointly had a clause for AN field — that helped.”
But it absolutely was solely in 2020, beneath the fourth spherical of UDAN regional property theme, that Rupsi became useful when it absolutely was redeveloped by the field Authority of India at Rs 69 Crore.
Rupsi 2.0 in Assam
Rupsi can cater to passengers from north Bengal (Alipurduar and Cooch Behar districts), lower Assam’s Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, South Salmara districts, likewise as Meghalaya’s Garo Hills.
Despite the pandemic there area unit a minimum of 60 to 70 passengers mistreatment the field every day, same Jyotirmoy Barua, field manager, Rupsi. Currently, there area unit four Flybig flights operative the Kolkata-Guwahati-Rupsi each week. “It was much a jungle before it absolutely was revived,” he said, “We have used the recent one.8-km-long runway, simply strong and re-carpeted it, the terminal building may be a pre-fabricated structure.”
Zaman same he was happy that the field was useful once more however troubled concerning its feasibleness. “Many fields just like the Tura airport (Meghalaya) had opened however closed once more later attributable to lack of economic feasibleness. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen in Rupsi,” he said.