INTRODUCTION : Mizoram, being located at a remote and far flung area from mainland India, is one of the most inaccessible region in the North Eastern States. In the early part of 1980s, the only means of connectivity with other states and mainland India was by National Highway 54 passing through Silchar, Assam which was often disrupted by landslide, flood and even minor political instability in Assam. The need for a reliable and safe transportation was felt for a long time.
Mizoram, the 23rd State of the Union, is situated in the North Eastern corner of India bordering Myanmar in the East, Bangladesh in the West, Manipur, Assam and Tripura in the North East,North and West respectively. Due to its geographical location compounded by topographical disadvantage, the State, from time immemorial, had been adversely affected by acute connectivity constraint, and this fact had always been the biggest obstacle/stumbling block towards achievement of sustainable Development of the State. To venture into the main – land, the entry and exit point for Mizoram is Kolkata. While the journey time to Kolkata by Air is only one hour, communication through surface means takes a number of days. Due to this fact, Air Travel between Aizawl – Kolkata is not a luxury but a necessity for those residing in the State.
The subject of Aviation, being in the con – current list, there are hardly any State in the Country having separate Department to look after the subject of Aviation. However, in Mizoram, the State Government accorded such high priority that a separate Department to deal with Aviation subject was created as far back as 28th February 1988.
To overcome the frequent disruption in connectivity and linkage, the Government of Mizoram decided to set up a separate department to deal with the recurring difficulties. Civil Aviation Department was set up in the year 1988 to explore the possibility and feasibility of air connectivity. Initially, helicopter service was introduced during the period of 1988 to 1991. There after, Tuirial Airfield was utilised from 1992 for operation of Donnier 228 (18 seaters) linking Aizawl with Guwahati and Kolkata. But Tuirial Airfield was soon insufficient to cater to the demand. Therefore, a bigger Airport was constructed at Lengpui and its further development could be directly attributed to the State Government’s initiative in creating a separate Department to look after Aviation subject.
Lengpui Airport was constructed, owned and operated (with technical assistance from AAI) by the State Government and commissioned on 12th Dec. 1998.
As of now, Lengpui Airport plays a vital role in providing the much needed linkage between mainland India and neightbouring states.
The main aims and objectives of the department are : -
i) To improve air connectivity with the mainland India and neighbouring states.
ii) To provide air connectivity within the state of Mizoram by introducing service of smaller aircrafts and helicopters.
iii) To further improve and upgrade Lengpui Airport.
iv) To explore the possibility of introducing Cargo service for perishable items.
v) To explore the possibility and feasibility of construction of small airfields/landing strips and helipads within the State.
vi) To create employment opportunities by encouraging and incalcating awareness to the local people, especially the youth to join/enroll in Aviation related trainings and also to join Indian Air Force.
To implement/achieve the above mentioned objectives, various steps are
being initiated to :
- Upgraded the status of Lengpui Airport from VFR to IFR by installation of an Instrument Landing System (ILS). ILS ensured more reliable service by minimising Diversions / Cancellations of flights due to adverse weather conditions. Cat-I ILS was installed and final approval from DGCA was obtained.
- Introduce Air Shuttle Service to Cities/Towns in the neighbouring states which are not connected by Air connectivity.
- Construct Advanced Landing Grounds at Lunglei and Champhai.
- Helicopter Service was introduced from 22nd August, 2012 by wet leasing one Dauphin helicopter from Pawan Hans. The helicopter service connects the district capitals including some important townships.
- To renovate Helipads at strategic locations. For this purpose, DONER had sanctioned Rs. 258.00 lakhs for construction/renovation of 10 Helipads under NLCPR. The work is in progress.