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8 April, 2019 11:29:14 AM

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Go ahead with Saidpur Airport upgradation plan

The present expansion of the airport will add significantly to the existing meagre international air communication infrastructure of the country
Staff Correspondent
Go ahead with Saidpur Airport upgradation plan

Conspiracy of the dishonest, gullibility of simple villagers as well as greed of vested quarters are working behind the ongoing protests against acquisition of land by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh for the third expansion work of Saidpur Airport, a very important point of communication from Dhaka to the country’s far-flung northern districts. This time the government has taken the expansion project for the airport to accommodate landing and taking-off of international flights.

A bigger runway and air terminal are now necessary.
Countries close to Saidpur including Nepal, Bhutan and some cities of India as well can operate flights once the capacity of Saidpur Airport is enhanced and internationalised. Bhutan has particularly shown its interest to use Saidpur Airport as a transit route for its flights to other international destinations. The Bhutanese authorities already visited Saidpur and made a feasibility study in this regard and expressed their satisfaction. International business conducted through this airport would reduce the travel cost greatly.
The present expansion of the airport will add significantly to the existing meagre international communication infrastructure of the country, not just boosting business of Saidpur town and the northern areas that will grow in importance overnight. Once the airport is capable, many airliners may want to use it for carrying passengers as well. Saidpur Airport would then be only the fourth after Dhaka, Chattogram and Sylhet in terms of operating international flights.     

Before, the government also acquired lands for Saidpur Airport two times and people who were adequately compensated by the government did not complain the land acquisition. The whole of Rangpur division with places like Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Panchagarh, Nilphamari, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha as well as Joypurhat district of Rajshahi division are now getting the dividend of Saidpur Airport. Communication to the capital from these places has now become so fast.  

Presently, a total of 14 flights are carrying passengers in Dhaka-Saidpur route daily. This advantage of Saidpur as a town is spurting growth of business there and is making it an important place in other ways also, despite the fact that it is an upazila town of rather underdeveloped Nilphamari district. Had there been no Saidpur, Nilphamari would have been a district of diminished significance.        

Economic development is presently catching up everywhere in Bangladesh. Once greater Rangpur district was infamously known for ‘monga’, a time when work was hardly available for the poor and price of daily necessities used to shoot up. Now the spectre of this extreme hardship has disappeared from the area, thanks to the development of country’s vital infrastructure including the Jamuna multipurpose bridge. Padma bridge is also expected to contribute similarly for the balanced economic development of the country.

An international airport is a vital infrastructure, but some people at Saidpur are instigating villagers against the acquisition of land. Here the dishonest elements have taken control of khas land and are demanding compensation. Still, for getting more than what they deserve—as the government is giving three times the actual price of land—many have overnight built habitats, dug ponds and raised vegetable gardens in their land.

It has been surfaced in the local media that some inhabitants of one village are particularly protesting acquisition of land because they allegedly do not have genuine documents of lands. Since they would not get compensation by producing their false papers, they are creating much hullabaloo surrounding the land acquisition for the airport. As a result of their protest, the land acquisition process has unfortunately come to a stop.

It must be remembered here that expansion of Saidpur Airport cannot be likened to the government’s Arial Beel project for constructing a large international airport which was ultimately cancelled in the face of people’s protest. At that time if the government did not backtrack in its plan of converting the huge marshy land into an airport, it could have been a case of ecocide.

The water body is a sanctuary of fish and other aquatic animals and a great number of people’s livelihood depends on the marshes of Arial. People of Munshiganj logically stood, supported by people all over the country, against the construction of the airport and the government found that their demand was genuine and rightly cancelled the plan.

But the protesters at Saidpur are making an emotional appeal that they do not want to leave their ancestral places. Moreover, all landowners at Saidpur are not reportedly against the airport’s current expansion. There are many villagers who will be happy as long as the compensation money is timely paid.

The law of the state stipulates that the government can take hold of private land for the welfare of greater number of people given that it adequately compensates the landowners. Moreover, the people who are at the helm of political and social leadership at Saidpur irrespective of their party affiliations are strongly favouring the expansion programme of the airport and have become vocal against the conspiracy of the vested people.

The writ of the state must run. The government cannot backtrack at Saidpur, like it did in the case of Arial Beel. For making smooth the transfer of land, its first option is, taking the local political and social leaders, to persuade those landowners who are wrongly motivated not to give their land for airport’s expansion. We hope persuasion will work for the innocent villagers. For the greed and conspiracy of the dishonest elements the government should not sacrifice a project with which national development is importantly connected.   

The writer is Assistant Editor of The Independent

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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