Sikkim’s Pakyong Airport Starts Operations: 5 Reasons Why It’s an Engineering Feat!

The Pakyong airport, finally puts Sikkim on India’s aviation map and is an example of stellar engineering.

If you’re flying to Sikkim, the nearest airport is at Bagdogra, in West Bengal, nearly 124 kms from the state capital, Gangtok.

The Pakyong airport now puts Sikkim on India’s aviation map. It is one of the five highest airports in the country and was built over several years, costing an estimated Rs 350 crore.

“The Pakyong (Gangtok) Airport at Sikkim got a license today for scheduled operations. It’s an engineering marvel at a height of more than 4,500 ft in a tough terrain. Will pave way for direct air connectivity to our lovely state of Sikkim, giving a boost to tourism & economic growth,” tweeted Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Tourists, migrant workers and locals will soon fly on the low-cost airline SpiceJet, after it was granted permission to fly to Pakyong from Kolkata under the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The picturesque runway of the Pakyong Airport in Sikkim. Image Credit: Soumen Mukherjee

1. The Pakyong airport in Sikkim is spread over 990 acres and is the first greenfield airport to be constructed in the north-east region of the country.
2. Over the years, several landslides near the runway resulted in work being suspended twice, but it was finally constructed and earlier this year, a fixed-wing 19-seater Dornier 228 IAF aircraft landed on the runway.
3. The airport is considered an engineering marvel because of its terrain. It is stationed at more than 4,500 feet and lies snugly between the Himalayas.
4. It is around 30 km from Sikkim’s state capital, Gangtok, and is located around 60 km away from the Indo-China border, giving it strategic importance. It is believed that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be able to land various types of aircraft on the airport’s runway.
5. Until now, Sikkim was the only state in the country which did not have an airport. The Pakyong airport is the 100th functional airport in India.

According to MoneyControl, as per a previous proposal by the Ministry of Home Affairs, due to its “strategically important” location, the security of the Pakyong airport should be handled by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). The CISF is a professional aviation security force that handles 59 airports across the country.

The new airport will be an excellent opportunity for those of you who haven’t yet experienced this beautiful mountainous abode.

Source………Rayomand Engineer  in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

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Meet the Ex-IAS Officer Who Left America to Head the Swachh Bharat Mission…

 

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) promised to bring open defecation in India down to zero, and the government had also guaranteed that it would build enough toilets in every village and city to completely eradicate the problem of open defecation.

Many of us will agree that open defecation leads to the proliferation of diseases, and it is thus, advisable, to make India completely open-defecation free.

However, one man working for the Swachh Bharat Mission knows that the subject of open-defecation is not as black and white as it seems. For many, it is a part of their lifestyle, that they cannot change overnight. The problem of maintaining toilets that were built by the authorities also keeps people outside the washroom walls.

Meet Parameswaran Iyer, a former IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer who currently leads the Swachh Bharat Mission  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Iyer had worked with World Bank from April 1998 to September 2007 in Hanoi, Vietnam. From 2012 onwards he was the lead water and sanitation specialist for the World Bank and was instrumental in bringing two leading programmes on the ground there.

Before taking up a specialisation in Vietnam, Mr Iyer had also worked in Washington on Egypt and Lebanon and in the Bank’s Water Anchor.

When he realised that he had to accept that many people prefer to defecate in the open rather than in toilets, Mr Iyer brought his experience in Vietnam to practical use. In 2014, he had written about the need for behaviour change before a lifestyle change, on the World Bank’s site.

“The biggest lesson learned so far in Vietnam, and other countries is that eliminating open defecation is not driven by the construction of toilets.

It is driven by changing the behaviour at the community level based on quality, evidence-based interventions. What is also clear is that approaches must be tailored to be the specific context with careful consideration of local factors such as ethnicity,” he wrote.

Mr Iyer’s experience with the World Bank, across several countries, will certainly help India, to go a step further in the cleanliness mission.

This is a rare case of the Indian government appointing an IAS officer working with the World Bank for their initiative, and Mr Iyer has certainly upped the hopes of Indian citizens. He was appointed as Union Secretary for the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2017 on a two-year contract basis.

A senior government official told Livemint, “It is clear from the two-year fixed contract, that the government has decided to give him a free hand to steer the programme. It also gives a clear signal that if the government does not get the desired results from the internal talent pool, it will not hesitate in getting them from outside.”

With a combined experience of about two decades in this sector, Parameswaran is sure to be a beaming light of hope for the dream of a clean India!

Featured image source: Twitter.

Source….Tanvi Patel  in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

 

Phenomenal domestic growth fuels India’s aircraft demand…

India’s exponential rise in both passenger and freight traffic means the country will need 1,750 new aircraft over the next 20 years, according to estimates from Airbus.

With air traffic growth driven by a fast expanding economy, rising wealth and urbanisation, and government-backed regional connectivity programmes, India will require 1,320 new single-aisle aircraft and 430 widebody aircraft over the next two decades.

That’s according to European aircraft manufacturer Airbus in its latest India Market Forecast. It said the total value of the aircraft would be $255bn.

The report predicted that by 2036, Indians will each make four times as many flights as today. As a result, traffic serving the Indian market is forecast to grow 8.1 percent per year over the next 20 years, almost twice as fast as the world average of 4.4 percent.

Domestic Indian traffic is expected to grow five-and-half times over by 2036, reaching the same level as US domestic traffic today.

According to figures from OAG Schedules, domestic air capacity in India rose from 74.2 million available seats in 2008 to 143.2 million in 2017. In the last calendar year alone, domestic capacity increased by 13.8 percent after adding more than 17 million available seats.

The domestic growth comes as India’s government pushes its regional connectivity scheme (RCS), also known as UDAN, which aims to make air travel affordable and widespread.

The programme seeks to develop new and enhance the existing regional airports, as well as connecting more than 100 underserved and unserved airports in smaller towns.

Source…..David Casey in https://www.routesonline.com

Natarajan

India”s Most unusual Post Offices….Our Country Celebrates National Postal Day today…

E-mails may have overshadowed the concept of snail mail, yet post offices still hold a special place in the Indian way of life. Having long had a presence in local communities, they have served as exchange posts for news, gossip and much more.

As the country celebrates the National Postal Day today, here’s a look at three of India’s most unusual post offices.

Send a postcard from any of these unique spots, and you are sure to score some travel bragging rights!

1. The Post Office at Hikkim

 

 

 

Perched at 15,500 ft above sea level in Himachal Pradesh’s strikingly beautiful Spiti Valley, the hamlet of Hikkim is reputedly home to the world’s highest post office.

A small hut with whitewashed walls and a red postbox hanging outside, the quaint post office is 23 km from the town of Kaza and has been functioning since November 5, 1983. With no internet and patchy cell phone signal, the facility is the only conduit to the world for Hikkim’s residents.

This inconspicuous little post office is single-handedly managed by Rinchen Chhering, who has been the branch postmaster for over 20 years. He was chosen for the post when he was just 22 because he could run fast and owned a bicycle!

Every day, two runners take turns hiking to Kaza on foot to deliver mail that is then taken by bus to Reckong Peo, onward to Shimla, further by train to Kalka, from where it is taken to Delhi and sent to its final destination. In winter, everything in the valley freezes – the rivers, the lakes, the mountains. As the snow cover cuts off Hikkim from the rest of the world, the village’s post office also shuts down for six months.

2. The Post Office at Antarctica

Dakshin Gangotri Station                                                                                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located in Dakshin Gangotri, India’s first scientific base in Antarctica, this post office first became operational on February 24, 1984, after it was established during the third Indian expedition to the frigid ‘White Continent.’ It was a part of the base’s multi-support systems that also included including ice-melting plants, laboratories, storage and recreational facilities.

The Dakshin Gangotri PO was brought under the Department of Post at Goa on January 26, 1988. Scientist G. Sudhakar Rao, who went to Antarctica as a member of the Seventh Indian Scientific Expedition in 1987, was appointed as its first honorary postmaster. Interestingly, in its first year of establishment, nearly 10000 letters were posted and cancelled at this post office.

However, in 1990, Dakshin Gangotri PO in Antarctica was decommissioned after it got half buried in ice. The post office was then shifted to the new permanent research base, Maitri.

Over the years, the unusual spot has become a favourite stop-off for tourists from cruise ships who came to explore the frozen continent and learn about its unique ecosystem. They send out postcards and letters that take between two and six weeks to reach their destinations via Hobart (in Australia).

3. The Post Office on Dal Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Built on an intricately carved houseboat, the Srinagar’s Floating Post Office claims to be the only one of its kind in the world. Here you can avail all regular postal services while being afloat on the Dal Lake. A heritage post office that has existed since colonial times, it was called Nehru Park post office before it was renamed by the then chief postmaster John Samuel in 2011.

After a pretty little philately museum and souvenir shop were added to it, the Floating Post Office was formally relaunched in August 2011. Interestingly, the seal used on everything posted from the this is unique, and tourist-friendly post office bears a special design — of a boatman rowing a shikara on the Dal Lake — along with the date and address.

While enthusiastic tourists row to the post office every day to send postcards back home, for the locals, the post office is more than an object of fascination. The islets in Dal Lake are home to over 50000 people (farmers, labourers, artisans and shikaraowners) for whom this state-run facility is the nearest source of postal and banking services.

Source…SanchariPal in http://www.thebetterindia.com

Natarajan