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With Pakyong Airport, the country has hit a century of airports: PM Modi
Pakyong Airport would greatly ease connectivity to Sikkim, boost tourism, strengthen trade: PM Modi
Out of 100 airports in the country today, 35 have been operationalized in the last four years: PM Modi

Governor of Sikkim Mr. Ganga Prasad ji, Chief Minister of the State Mr. Pawan Chamling Ji, my cabinet colleagues Mr. Suresh Prabhu Ji, Dr. Jitendra Singh Ji, S. S.Ahluwalia ji, Speaker of the State Assembly Mr. K. N. Rai ji, Minister in the State Government, Mr. Dorjee Tshering Lepcha ji, all the other dignitaries present here and my dear brothers and sisters.

Friends,

I have been touring East India for the last three days, and during this period, I have had the privilege of dedicating major projects to the nation that are related to the infrastructure and will serve the humanity.

After inaugurating the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) and launching the Ayushman Bharat Mission in Jharkhand yesterday, I arrived at Sikkim yesterday evening. This morning as I woke up to Sikkim's rising sun, cool air, beautiful mountains and the pristine natural beauty, I started clicking pictures. Who wouldn't love its beauty and elegance? Everyone will appreciate it. Nature has given you everything and everyone throngs this place to be a part of it.

Brothers and sisters,

You as well as the entire country are well aware of the significance of the Eastern direction in our traditions and culture.

The Northeast is particularly of significance. My warm regards to the people of this beautiful Eastern state and I dedicate to you and Sikkim your first Airport - Pakyong Airport.

This day is not only a historic one for you all but also of immense significance for the nation. You will feel proud once the Pakyong airport becomes operational.

Cricketers score century on the cricket ground and today India has scored a century. After the inauguration of this airport, there are 100 operational airports in the country. In that sense, India has scored a century today. Our country is transforming. Sikkim is known for football. Everyone plays football here but now they are also trying their hands at cricket.

I read in today's newspaper that Sikkim's captain Nilesh Lamichanay had scored a century yesterday. On one hand, Nilesh is the first Sikkimese to score century in cricket, while on the other hand, Sikkim marks the 100th airport of the country.

Brothers and sisters,

This airport will play a pivotal role in making your lives easier. Till today, someone from some other part of the country who wanted to visit Sikkim or other places via Sikkim had to face a lot of trouble. The people of Sikkim and the visitors of Sikkim are well aware of this situation.

Earlier people had to de-board at Bagdogra airport and had to cover a tiring distance of about 125 kilometres on a difficult terrain that took 5-6 hours. Only then, one could reach Gangtok. However, now this Pakyong airport will eliminate this exhausting journey and will reduce the distance to minutes.

Brothers and sisters,

It has definitely made the journey smoother and shorter; at the same time, the government has also tried to ensure that the common man too can commute easily to and fro from here. Therefore, this airport has been linked to the UDAN scheme. Under this scheme, one has to pay about Rs.2500-2600.

Due to the government's efforts and vision, journey by flights have become cheaper like that of the Air-conditioned railway journeys. There is a saying - Time is money. Travelling by flight saves time; therefore it saves money. This is the reason why the country's lakhs of middle class families are now able to travel by flights.

Friends,

The Airport has just been inaugurated. However, within a couple of weeks, regular flights to Guwahati and Kolkata will start. Efforts will also be made to connect it with other parts of the country and with the neighbouring countries as well.

Friends,

The Pakyong airport is not only a symbol of beauty but also of engineering skills. The people who are active on social media must have seen the photos of this airport and of flights landing on the lap of nature. You must have seen those photos. They have gone viral on social media. Even though it has been inaugurated today, but the people have already started hailing it.

This airport that has been constructed with a cost of Rs.550 crores depicts the pride and the ability of the engineers and workers. The hills were carved out, the debris was used to fill the gorges and they had to deal with the challenge of heavy rainfall. The streams passing through this area have been allowed to pass below the airport. Really, it is an extraordinary engineering technique.

Today on this occasion, I would like to congratulate all the engineers and workers associated with the planning and construction for this astounding work. You all have indeed done an incredible job.

Brothers and sisters,

Work for extending both the infrastructural and emotional connectivity to Sikkim and the Northeast is going on at a rapid pace. Over the last four years, I have often interacted with the people of the Northeastern states to seek their blessings and to know about the progress of development work.

Moreover, after every one or a couple of weeks, a Union minister visits one or the other Northeast state and monitors the progress of the work. Thus, you all can clearly see the results of this system on ground today.

 

Several initiatives in the northeastern states like Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Tripura or Mizoram have been taken for the first time since independence. Flights and rail connectivity have reached there for the first time; and even electricity has reached for the first time in some places.

Wider National Highways as well as rural roads are being constructed. Vast bridges are being built over the rivers. Digital India is being expanded. Proceeding with the Mantra of 'Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas', our government is working with zest and fervour to minimize regional imbalance and to make the Northeast and the East India the engines of India's growth story. We are committed to it.

With this vision, we expedited the work of handing over the airport to Sikkim. We crossed all the hurdles and now your dream has come true. You are well aware of the fact that about six decades ago, a small flight had taken off from here. Thereafter, for six decades, you had to keep waiting for the airport.

Friends,

Airports have been set up not only in Sikkim but also in other states including Arunachal Pradesh. As I was saying, 100 airports have been operationalized. And you will be surprised to know that 35 of these airports have been constructed only in the last four years.

What is the meaning of working at a fast pace? What does it mean to work in all directions? What does it mean to work with vision? You will understand it with an example. Up to 2014 since independence, that is, in 67 years only 65 airports existed. This means that on an average, 1 airport was constructed every year. Do you understand? 1 airport per year was their speed. This was their way of thinking. During the last four years, 9 airports per year were constructed. The work has been going on at 9 times better speed. They would have taken 40 more years to complete the task that we have done in four years.

Brothers and sisters,

Today India has become the third largest market for domestic flights in the world. The airline companies are short of aircrafts. Orders are being placed for new aircrafts. I want to put forth some more statistics that will again surprise you. In 70 years of Independence, barely 400 aircrafts were operational. Now the airline companies have placed order for 1000 new aircrafts in the last one year; 400 aircrafts in 70 years and 1000 new ones in just one year. This depicts that our dream of enabling the common man to travel by air is getting fulfilled at a rapid pace.

Brothers and sisters,

This airport will not only facilitate you to commute to different parts of the country but will also help to increase your income. Sikkim has always been the hub for domestic and international tourists. The tourist population is greater than its population. I was told that despite not having an airport, the tourist population was 1.5 times the population of the state.

Now that this airport is operational, you will see that the number of tourists will not be limited to this. You will see the rise in the number of tourists in this Diwali and Durga Puja season itself.

The airport will prove to be a gateway of employment for the youngsters of Sikkim. As a result, several opportunities in the form of hotels, motels, guesthouses, camping sites, homestay, tourist guides, restaurants and suchlike will open up. In tourism sector, even the poorest of the poor will earn; small vendors like tea sellers, groundnut sellers and florists will get the opportunity to earn; auto rickshaw drivers and guesthouse owners will also earn.

Friends,

The government has made transportation and tourism as a medium of transformation. The focus is on religious places and tribal belts. Facilities are being developed in these places for the devotees and tourists. This region is home to the highest peak Kanchenjunga as well as the Nathu La pass that has been opened up by our government for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

More than Rs.40 crores has been approved to develop all the facilities for the devotees here. Efforts are being made by collaborating with the state government to keep Sikkim's environment safe and green.

Under the National River Conservation Plan, the central government has approved more than Rs.350 crores. Under this, 8 out of 9 projects are for Gangtok and Singtham. Projects worth approximately Rs. 150 crores are for protecting Rani chu river from getting polluted. Besides, for protecting the environment of the entire Northeast, about Rs.125 crores have been approved of which more than Rs.50 crores have already been released.

Friends,

There is a close connection between environment, transport and tourism. Therefore, the emphasis is not just on air connectivity, but also on the other means that are being strengthened. Work on the National Highway project worth more than Rs.1500 crores is also underway. Besides, small roads are being constructed and widened at a cost of Rs.250 crores.

Along with the roads, the railway of Sikkim is also being strengthened. The work of connecting Gangtok with broad-gauge line is going on at a rapid pace.

Aid of more than Rs.1500 crores has been given to the state government to improve the electricity supply system and repairing the transmission lines. I was told that efforts are going on to finish this work by December this year.

Besides, we are also moving towards including Sikkim among the country's leading states in terms of electricity generation. Work on 6 hydroelectric power projects at a cost of about Rs. 14 thousand crores is underway.

Brothers and sisters,

I would like to congratulate the people of Sikkim, the government of Sikkim and especially the farmers here for setting an example for the country by adopting organic farming. Sikkim is the first state to become 100% organic farming state.

The government is making several efforts to promote organic farming across the country. Work is in progress under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana. Not only organic farming but value addition and market system is also being developed. Today this airport has been started for the passengers but the day is not far when fruits and flowers from here will reach the markets of Delhi within hours.

Flowers produced by the farmers of Sikkim will reach at the feet of several gods and goddess in India. The governments in the northeastern states have also started a special scheme named Mission Organic Value Development for Northeastern Region. A provision of Rs.400 crores has been made for this.

Friends,

Organic products are not only safe for our environment and the earth but also keep us away from diseases. The government's topmost priority is ensuring good health of the citizens. The Chief Minister was telling me that there has been a discernable result in the last 10 years due to the success of organic farming and products; the life expectancy of the people has been increasing. The life expectancy of the people has been increasing rapidly and the life expectancy of women is increasing more than that of men. I believe that the others will also learn from Sikkim, get rid of chemical fertilizers and lead a healthy and happy life.

As per the information that I have, the people of Sikkim have embraced and promoted the objectives of 'Swachhta Hi Seva'. In 2016, Sikkim was the first state to be declared Open Defecation Free due to the efforts and awareness of all of you. Moreover, you all have done a commendable job in elimination of plastic wastes.

Brothers and sisters,

As I was saying, yesterday, the largest healthcare scheme in the country was started in the form of Ayushman Bharat and Sikkim too is associated with it. Now, the government will spend up to Rs.5 lakhs per poor family of Sikkim per year for the treatment of serious diseases. If a person here visits any part of the country and requires treatment from hospital, he will receive the money even at that place. The protective cover of Ayushman Bharat will follow the patient everywhere he goes.

Friends,

The government has been running several schemes over the last four years to elevate the standard of living of the people and Sikkim too is deriving benefits out of it. Under Jan Dhan Yojana, bank accounts of about 1 lakh people have been opened in Sikkim. Nearly 80 thousand brothers and sisters here have been covered under the insurance schemes with a premium of Re.1 per month and 90 paise daily.

Under the Ujjwala scheme, about 38 thousand poor families were given free gas connections for their kitchens.

Friends,

The NDA government is moving ahead with commitment of making the lives of the people of East India and Northeast India easier and to ensure ease of living. We wish to connect this area with the new era of development and want to build a new pivot of New India.

This Airport will help in development of several new facilities that will take Sikkim to new heights. I once again congratulate you all from the bottom of my heart for your first airport.

The Chief Minister has mentioned about several issues and both of us keep discussing about these issues. Therefore, I feel it is not necessary to publicly talk about those. However, I want to reassure you that if we want to take our nation to greater heights, it is pertinent to carry Sikkim forward. Hence, every kind of effort will be made to fulfil the dreams of every community, individual and youngster of Sikkim.

With this belief, once again I offer my best wishes and congratulations to you all.

Thank you!

'মন কী বাত'কীদমক্তা হৌজিক অদোমগী ৱাখল্লোন অমদি তান-ৱাশিং শেয়র তৌবীয়ু!
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Social Media Corner 7th December 2021
December 07, 2021
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