The Airports Authority of India (AAI) Sunday said the state-of-the-art new terminal building of Maharaja Bir Bikram (MBB) Airport in Agartala will be commissioned after six months, well before Durga Puja this year. While the project was initially expected to be completed by April this year, officials say adding latest technological inputs delayed the project and it would take another 6-7 months.
Speaking to media in Agartala on Sunday, Regional Director (NE) Sanjeev Jindal said, “This terminal building is being built with financial involvement of Rs 500 crores and is capable of handling 4-5 times more passengers than the existing terminal.”
“It takes some time to operate such a new building since IT incorporation is time consuming. Moreover, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Ministry of Environment, fire clearances and approval of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is required. We are expecting to complete all the works of the building within three months. I feel we can commission the new terminal within another 3-4 months, well before the Durga Puja this year,” he added.
MBB Airport is currently the second busiest airport in North-East India with close to 1.8 million passengers in 2019, after Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport of Guwahati. The airport’s history dates back to 1942, when it as built as a military airstrip on a piece of land donated by the then king of Tripura – Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Bahadur. The airport was renamed after him on July 2018.
The existing terminal building of MBB Airport was commissioned in 2001 with a maximum capacity of handling 500 passengers including departures and arrivals. With 19 flights operating daily from this airport, the existing terminal has become saturated and the new integrated terminal building of modular design was started to handle 1,200 passengers including domestic and proposed international segments.
The entire structure stands on 25,000 square meters and would be armed with six bays, one hangar, 20 check-in counters, 5 custom counters, 10 immigration counters, apron for six aircraft parking bays, provisions for link cabs, inline baggage system, a solar power unit capable of handling most power requirements of the installation and a self-sustainable sewage treatment plant.
MBB Airport would have some of the latest technology of IT and automation in the aviation sector including a full-body scanner machine, the first to be ever installed in any airport of India so far. It will be enabled to handle large aircraft like Airbus 321 along with smaller aircraft. Meanwhile, the existing terminal would be converted into a training center for aspiring aviation professionals.
It will also sport miniature sculptures of Tripura’s 7th-century mammoth bas relief sculptures of Unakoti, Tripurasundari Temple, etc. inside the complex to entertain tourists.
Development of Tripura’s lone functional airport is a part of AAI Rs 3,400 crore initiative to develop airports and airfields across different states of North-East India. Tripura is the closest neighbour to adjoining Bangladesh and its airport lies right very close to the barbed wire fence which separates India with Bangladesh.
Apart from this, three other small airports are lying defunct at Kailashahar in Unakoti district, Kamalpur in Dhalai and Khowai of Khowai district. Among them, Kailashahar Airport is likely to start soon as TruJet, a private airline operator showed interest to operate flights from there last year.
Northeast India has got 12 airports with increasing connectivity among each other under the central government’s UDAAN scheme for regional connectivity. AAI connected Mizoram and Nagaland last year and is working to connect all NE states under regional connectivity.