"Let Ishwardi Airport be opened" is not my word, it is everyone's demand now. The airport was established in Ishwardi, an important town of the country with high expectations. This raised great hopes not only for the north but also for the south-west. But regular landing at that potential airport has been closed for a long time. Think about it and do it, don't think about it. So those who took the initiative to build Ishwardi Airport from their thoughts were certainly not thoughtless. He made the decision after analyzing the haircut. So to invalidate that decision now is to waste the state's economy. The airport terminal building, runways, taxiways, aprons, navigation and connection equipment, officers' quarters and access roads to the airport are becoming unusable as the airport has not been opened for a long time.
According to Wikipedia, the oldest airport in Bangladesh was established between 1940-1945. Preliminary work of Ishwardi Airport was started in 1960 on 412 acres of land. At that time Dakota DC-3 aircraft was launched by constructing a runway at a cost of about 22 lakh rupees. It was established shortly after Dhaka and Chittagong airports. During World War II, the airport was known as the Hijli Base Area. The airport was used by the 20th U.S. Military Air Force bombers from February 6-24, 1945. According to sources, the first Bangladesh Biman started taking off and landing at Ishwardi Airport in 1975. At that time there were two flights every morning and afternoon.
The airport was damaged during the war of liberation in 1971. After repairs, air traffic resumed in 1982. At that time many passengers from Pabna, Kushtia, Natore and Rajshahi used to travel to Dhaka by air. Later, the flight on this route was canceled in 1986 on the pretext of loss. Due to the demands of the passengers, the air service was resumed on July 16, 1994, but it was resumed on November 3, 1996. Then on May 10, 1997, the flight of private airline Air Parabat was started in response to the demand of the passengers. The service was also shut down on June 26 after only 36 days. After 18 years of closure, the flight was reopened on November 17, 2013, but the airport was closed again after 6 months. On the same day, the private airline United Airways started operating flights from this airport. But after 6 months and 11 days of operation, the airport was closed again on May 29, 2014.
There are several airports in Bangladesh, big and small. The country has three international airports. There are five domestic airports. There are also seven short-range ports. Apart from these, there are several airstrips in Bangladesh. Which was created during World War II. Bengal's international airports are located in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet divisions. There are domestic airports in Rajshahi, Khulna, Rangpur, Chittagong, Barisal, Dhaka and Khulna divisions and district towns. From these ports domestic flights take off and land. There are several more ports in the country. Which is only used for landing aircraft. Although most of these do not work now. This list includes Comilla, Bogra, Thakurgaon, Lalmonirhat districts. There are airports or airstrip in Sandwip, Feni, Chakoria of Cox's Bazar, Ghatail of Tangail, Moulvibazar, Bajitpur of Kishoreganj and Patuakhali districts.
Modern communication system is a prerequisite for investment and development. In this case forward air communication. But Bangladesh is lagging behind in this regard. Although there are airports, the number of airports suitable for air traffic is low. There are airports in Barisal, Comilla, Thakurgaon and Khulna; But not fully operational. Some are abandoned, some are unused. If these were in operation, domestic and foreign investment would increase. Besides, it would have been easier for people to move and transport goods. So in the interest of geographical communication, the airport in Ishwardi is reasonable. The movement of people has increased in Pabna now. Due to the country's largest development project, nuclear power plant, EPZ, various important public-private projects, countless people have to go to Pabna every day. The demand for opening of Ishwardi Airport is not unreasonable as road travel is time consuming.
No aircraft has landed at this airport in the last seven years. In the course of time, not only is Ishwardi Airport operational today, it has become a matter of time to transform it into an international airport. Ishwardi is a town located in a geographically convenient location and rich in agriculture, industry and trade. There is a great combination of improved roads, waterways and railways.
Due to this various national and international institutions have been established here during the British and Pakistan period. Even after becoming Bangladesh, there have been many institutions. The number of passengers will increase manifold if regular flights are started at this first airport in the north and south of Bangladesh. Apart from the officials and businessmen of various government and non-government departments of Pabna city, they want to return to Ishwardi Airport. Among the officials of national organizations in Ishwardi who need to travel to Dhaka on emergency basis are representatives of various government and non-government organizations of Rooppur nuclear project and Russian nationals of the main contractor, head office of Bangladesh Sugarcrop Research Institute and Training Institute, Ishwardi EPZ, Pabna University of Science and Technology. Pabna Medical College, Pabna Textile Engineering College, Bangladesh Pulses Research Institute, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BATI), Bangladesh Atomic Agriculture Research Institute, Benarsi Industries, Silk Seed, Meteorological Department, Pakshi Paper Mill (now closed), located at Ishwardi. Ltd., the second largest railway junction, Pabna Mental Hospital, Bangladesh Railway Divisional Manager's Office (DRM Office) officials will benefit from the launch of this airport.
Moreover, if the Ishwardi Airport is opened, local and foreign industrialists will definitely invest more in the EPZ here. Domestic and foreign industrialists have repeatedly informed the EPZ authorities about coming and going by air. They are losing interest in investing here because of the lack of airspace and the long time it takes to get there by road. After hearing their comments, the EPZ authorities contacted the upper echelons of the government. It is learned that there are strong demands from various quarters regarding the opening of Ishwardi Airport. A large quantity of agricultural produce is supplied daily from Ishwardi to different markets of the country including Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet. Besides, agricultural products are also exported outside the country.
If the airline system is introduced, the government will be able to earn huge amount of revenue from here. Because about one-tenth of the country's demand for vegetables is produced in Ishwardi. If at least one aircraft is launched for the supply of agricultural products, the countrymen will get fresh vegetables on time. Truck traffic congestion will be reduced in big cities including Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet. If you do as much as you say in words, it will work. Something is easy to create but difficult to hold. That is what comes to mind in the case of airports.
However, I am optimistic that Ishwardi Airport will be opened. Because it is logical to set up a new one where there is a need. I think it would be very important to start the Ishwardi Airport there if some maintenance of the Ishwardi Airport would be useful. As the government has worked towards development, local MPs have also pledged to open the airport, so we can expect it to be launched. Because it is more of a loss for the state to keep it abandoned since its inception.
In the 50 years of the victory, Bangladesh has made a lot of progress by disproving the ideas of many scholars and experts. Under the successful leadership of this Sheikh Hasina, the last 12 years have achieved an average growth of 7.8 percent. In three consecutive years, the growth was above 6 percent. Following this, GDP growth exceeded 7 percent in FY 2018-19. Sheikh Hasina's strong leadership is now globally admirable. He has taken the country to a unique height and his international achievements are no less. Bangladesh has attracted the attention of the world by achieving many indicators of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Sheikh Hasina was recently awarded the 'SDG Progress Award' by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). So it seems that the Hon'ble Prime Minister is not unaware of how to turn abandoned resources into efficient assets without wasting them. The Padma Bridge is now visible with ink on the faces of critics. So in the tide of infrastructural development, Ishwardi Airport will remain closed. It seems that there is no chance to think for long. Hon'ble Prime Minister, I want to intervene. Your mega project Rooppur Nuclear Project is in Ishwardi today. It is our pride. It doesn't seem appropriate to have an airport in that proud Ishwardi. Everyone hopes that we will soon get the good news of the launch of Ishwardi Airport. Ishwardi will move forward, Bangladesh will move forward. I am waiting for that Mahendrakshan. Hon'ble Prime Minister, I would like to start a new horizon of communication with your arrival at Ishwardi Airport.
Gopal Odikari is a Journalist