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Helicopter services in Manipur soon for better communication

Imphal, Dec 13 (IANS) Manipur will soon introduce helicopter services to improve communication between state capital Imphal and the mountainous and plain areas of the northeastern state, officials said here Monday.

Manipur, bordering Myanmar, is the sixth northeastern state in India which has introduced chopper services to develop faster communication between various regions.

The government-owned helicopter service company Pawan Hans has been operating for the past nine years in the interior areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura, Sikkim and Nagaland with the union home ministry subsidising fares by upto 75 percent.

‘The chopper service would be first introduced between state capital Imphal and the border town of Moreh (about 110 km from Imphal) and Jiribam sub-divisional headquarter (around 225 km from Imphal) by January next year,’ a senior Manipur transport department official told IANS.

The official said that following the request of the state government, the union home ministry has asked the Manipur government to send detailed proposals and requisite information to them. ‘Accordingly necessary papers have been submitted to the (union) home ministry.’

‘We are expecting a green signal from the centre at any moment and then we would launch the chopper service first between Imphal-Moreh and Imphal-Jiribam. Subsequently, the helicopter service would be introduced in other areas of the state,’ the official said on condition of anonymity.

Moreh, a tourist destination town bordering Myanmar, is also the main border trade centre between India and Myanmar while Jiribam is another Manipur town along southern Assam’s Cachar district.

‘By road, one can reach Moreh in four hours while by helicopter it would be a 27-minute journey only,’ the official added.

The helicopter services are also being used to promote tourism in the picturesque and ‘nature’s paradise’ northeast region of India.

‘The Tripura government has decided to introduce ‘heli-tourism’ in the state by extending chopper services to promote tourism in the hinterland,’ Tripura Tourism Development Corporation Managing Director Madhusudhan Bhattacharjee said.

He told IANS: ‘To promote rural tourism, we will operate helicopter services to 20 tourism spots in Tripura.’

The subsidised fare for the 20 tourism destinations has been fixed between Rs.700 and Rs.1,500.

‘The central government will also provide Rs.75 lakh for each heliport that would be developed in different tourism spots across the entire north-eastern region,’ Bhattacharjee said.

The newly-constituted Tripura Tourism Development Corporation is expanding infrastructure at new tourist spots and improving existing destinations in the state which borders Bangladesh.

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