Agartala by-pass fit for emergency flight landing

Prabir Shil

It may sound unbelievable but the fact remains - a 4.90 km patch of Agartala-Amtali by-pass road popularly known as Agartala by-pass could be a suitable facility for emergency landing of flights other than MBB Airport.

The 12.9 km Agartala by-pass was designed and developed by Border Road Organization (BRO) connecting Jirania with Amtali few years ago to save Agartala city from traffic congestion. Currently, PWD's national highway wing is looking after the double-lane road after BRO left the state around two years ago.

Out of total 12.5 km road- mostly straight and double-lane, a stretch of 4.90 km appears suitable for emergency landing of civilian and combat fighters as its width is more than of the prescribed guideline of Indian Air Force.

In security point of view, the IAF has already designated as many as 22 emergency landing zones across the country and a portion of the Agartala by-pass could be used in case of emergency purpose. As per the IAF guideline, only 2.8 km plain and straight stretch on the national highway could be used as emergency landing zone while the Agartala by-pass is more than 4.90 km.

The Agartala by-pass is yet to be included in the IAF's designated emergency flight landing zone list, according to sources aware about the whole process.

"The 4.5 km stretch of Agartala by-pass could be designated as emergency landing facility without any major work because facilities have already been created. Only left out work is to raise a bay to park aircrafts and creation of modern fire fighting system for any unforeseen incident or development", said Sankar Bhowmik, the executive engineer of PWD's NH.

A proposal to designate the Agartala by-pass as emergency landing facility was forwarded to the then Transport Minister Manik Dey but it did not make process as he did not see any merit in it. As a new government has taken over the charge with new vision-making Tripura a model state, people in power must consider the strategic proposal with due importance and care.

If the state government takes up the matter with the Centre, the state may have an alternative flight landing facility in the vicinity of the capital town. Although the state three dormant Airports- Khowai, Kamalpur and Kailashahar, they are far from the capital town.

Since the state has been gradually emerging as a gateway to South East Asian nations, there must be alternative facilities in all fields- trade& commerce, better connectivity of all forms.

Not only business or security point of view, an alternative flight landing facilities new the capital is necessary as the state falls under seismic zone-V most vulnerable earth quake zone in the region. If anything happens to MBB Airport aftermath of tremor or any natural disaster, the alternative facility may play savour role.

Currently, the state has 36 designated helipads but most of them are virtually abandoned due to lack of facilities. Sources said, the government could not finalize altitude and longitude all the designed helipads of the state, most vital information for a pilot to control flights while landing and taking off. Around 7/8 helipads are seldom g used as helipads.

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