The Manipur government said that it will preserve part of the historic oil airfield at Koirengei in Imphal, developing it into a war tourism site.
The state government had initiated a number of measures to acquire the Koirengei airfield from the Ministry of Defence.
“Chaired a review meeting on the transfer of land under old airfield at Koirengei, Imphal East, presently occupied by central security forces to the State Government,” Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had tweeted.
“We plan to relocate the units of the 57 Mountain Division of the Indian Army that is deployed in the Koirengei airfield to another suitable site,” a report quoted N Biren Singh as saying.
“We want to preserve part of the historic airfield and develop it into a war tourist site. The setting up of shopping malls and government quarters around the site is also being considered,” he said.
The nine airfields built by the British in Manipur have played a major role in World War II.
Had it not been for these airfields, the British would not have been able to defeat the Japanese in the unprecedented Battle of Imphal in 1944.
Manipur and Nagaland feature in the World War tourism map and a large number of tourists, particularly from Japan visit the Imphal War Cemetery in Manipur and the Kohima War Cemetery in Nagaland every year.
The Nippon Foundation of Japan also helped in setting up the Imphal Peace Museum at the Red Hill, following which the flow of Japanese tourists to the state capital has increased.
However, a section of people has expressed concern over the state government’s efforts to acquire the Koirengei airfield as the historic site may be viewed as just another piece of real estate waiting to be developed.