While speaking at the inauguration of Sikkim’s first airport in Pakyong on September 24, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “There are now 100 airports in India out of which 35 were built in the last four years. Since Independence to 2014, over 67 years, there were 65 airports. i.e an average of one airport per year whereas for the past four years. Whereas, nine airports have been built per year on an average since 2014.”
According to Fact Checker, no more than seven airports were made operational over the past four years.
According to the annual report 2017-18 of the civil aviation ministry, 129 airports are owned by Airport Authority of India (AAI). Of this 129, 23 are international, 78 domestic, eight customs and 20 civil enclaves at defence airfields.
According to replies given by the government to the Lok Sabha on July 19, 2018 and August 8, 2018, of 129 airports, 101 airports/civil enclaves are operational and 28 are non-operational.
Now, if the civil aviation ministry’s 2013-14 annual report is seen, it states that as many as 125 airports were owned by AAI at the end of March 31, 2014. These included 94 (including 29 civil enclaves) which were operational and 31 were those which were non-operational.
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So, it clearly proves that over the four years ending 2018, only seven airports have been made operational, in contrast to the number of 35 as quoted by Prime Minister Modi in his speech.
Another crucial information that needs to be conveyed to the BJP is that the Pakyong airport had received approval from the central government in October 2008 and that about 83 per cent of the work was completed by 2014.
“The project has been delayed over 50 months due to several hindrances like connectivity of site, adverse weather conditions, frequent bandhs and unrest by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), earthquake in 2011 and continuous agitation by the local inhabitants of the surrounding areas of the airport project demanding compensation for damage to their houses,” Fact Checker quoted G. M. Siddeshwara, then minister of state for civil aviation, as saying on July 21, 2014.
PM Modi’s intention behind inaugurating the airport was to claim credit for the same.
However, facts cannot be hidden and it is known to all the it was under the UPA government that the project was launched.