Narendra Modi claims 35 airports built over past four years, but official data shows only seven are 'operational'

Mumbai: “There are now 100 airports in India, out of which 35 were built in the last four years,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday at the inauguration of Sikkim’s first airport in Pakyong.

“Since Independence, the country had only 65 airports till 2014... Earlier the average was one airport every year, whereas for the past four years, on average, nine airports have been built per year.”

Fact: No more than seven airports were made operational over the last four years, according to official data.

As many as 129 airports are owned by Airport Authority of India (AAI) — of which 23 are international, 78 domestic, eight customs and 20 civil enclaves at defence airfields, according to the annual report 2017-18 of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration ceremony of Pakyong Airport in Sikkim on Monday. Twitter/@narendramodi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration ceremony of Pakyong Airport in Sikkim on Monday. Twitter/@narendramodi

Of 129 airports, 101 airports — including civil enclaves — are operational and 28 are non-operational, according to replies (here and here) by the government to the Lok Sabha on 19 July, 2018 and 8 August, 2018.

As many as 125 airports were owned by AAI at the end of 31 March, 2014, the aviation ministry’s annual report 2013-14 shows. Of these, 94 were operational – including 29 civil enclaves – and 31, non-operational. This indicates that seven airports were made operational over the four years ending 2018.

Pakyong Airport: Approved in 2008, operational in 2018

The Pakyong Airport in Sikkim had received approval from the central government in October 2008.

About 83 percent of the work was completed in 2014, the government told the Lok Sabha on 21 July, 2014.

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“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, 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,” GM Siddeshwara, then minister of state for civil aviation, had said on 21 July, 2014.

“The date of completion of the Pakyong Airport project can be projected/re-assessed only after all the issues pertaining to compensation and security at the site are resolved by the state government of Sikkim.”

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Updated Date: Sep 25, 2018 17:28 PM

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