Pradeep Pattanayak

The long-awaited construction work on the airstrip in the tribal-dominated Malkangiri has finally taken off, bringing smiles to the faces of the people. 

A firm named Taratarini Company is carrying out the pre-construction activities at the proposed site of the airstrip which is five kilometres away from the district headquarters. Notably, the groundbreaking ceremony for the ambitious project was held on October 12. 

The airstrip will come up on a piece of land measuring 95 hectares, at a project cost of Rs 33 crore. While the process for the project started way back in 2006, it progressed in fits and starts before taking off successfully. December 2023 has been set as the deadline for the completion of the project. 

Meanwhile, forest, government and private lands have been acquired and 2200 trees have been identified to be axed. The forest clearing work is currently underway. 

Sources said, the construction company is having problems in carrying out work as some people are still engaged in agricultural work on the proposed land. It is discussed in the locality that the project will miss the deadline if the administration doesn’t intervene.

"We are extremely happy to see that the government is planning to construct an airport in the underdeveloped tribal belt," said a local resident.

Malkangiri Additional Collector Maheswar Naik said all people to be shifted for the airstrip project have been granted compensation and rehabilitation. We hope that the project works will proceed smoothly.