The decision by the Jet Konnect authorities to discontinue the flight 9W-2895/2896 from Kolkata to Silchar and back from 31st March, 2013 onwards has come as a huge shock for the people of Barak Valley.
|Photo Courtesy: Dipalay Dey|
9W-2895 which used to fly from Kolkata to Silchar at 1355 hrs and then fly back to Kolkata at 1555 hrs was a great help for the people of the valley. The service was a huge boon, especially for those travellers who wanted to reach Silchar within a day from cities like Delhi, Mumbai or Bengaluru. They could easily fly to Kolkata from these destinations in the morning and then catch this flight to reach Silchar. The other afternoon service run by Air India (AI 753/754) flies only four days a week and is irregular with frequent cancellations.
While the exact ridership figures of this flight are not available with us, those who have traveled by this flight have always found it packed to capacity. Therefore, the decision to discontinue the service is even more baffling.
Once the news of this decision reached the people of the valley, especially Silchar, attempts were made to contact the Jet Konnect authorities. In fact, efforts were made through Facebook to ask as many people as possible to write to the airline requesting them not to stop the service.
However, unfortunately, the replies sent by the airline to most of the people signified nothing and gave no positive assurances. One of our readers who tried to contact Jet Konnect on this issue received this communication from them - “We thank you for your kind support and suggestions on the flights to operate as per the sectors mentioned by you. Let me assure you that your comments have been shared with the Marketing and Network Planning division keeping in mind the feasibility and economic viability of these routes. Thank you once again for taking the time to communicate with us.”
According to the Jet Konnect timetable, this flight (9W-2895/2896) figures in the list of Kolkata – Silchar services from October, 2013 onwards. However, the booking for the same has not been opened which raises doubts regarding the possibility of its resumption.
As per figures released by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Silchar is the fourth busiest airport in the north east in terms of flight movements. It is also the second largest urban centre of Assam after Guwahati both in terms of population and municipal area. But smaller towns like Dibrugarh and Jorhat enjoy better air connectivity despite having better railway connectivity than Silchar. These facts are absolutely inexplicable and point towards apathy not only from the government but from the airline operators as well.
Dibrugarh has two direct flights to Delhi and one to Ahmedabad. Jorhat has weekly flights to Bengaluru and Pune. Imphal and Agartala have plenty of flights to almost all major destinations across the country. But Silchar has flights to none of the major cities except Kolkata.
The broad gauge conversion project from Lumding to Silchar has missed many deadlines and looks set to miss many more due to tardy progress of work. The Mahasadak project is also mired in red tape with certain sections still awaiting forest clearances. In such a situation, proper air connectivity to the region is a must.
It is surprising that the public representatives who proudly take the front seats of the aircraft while traveling to Silchar and even delay the departures on some occasions, have chosen to remain completely quiet on this issue. We the common people, can only contact the airline authorities through e-mails and letters. But they are the ones who can meet the bosses, the ministers and bureaucrats concerned and can take up these issues. However, they have failed to deliver on almost all issues concerning the people and expecting them to deliver on this one would be incorrect.