Bhubaneswar: In another significant move for growth of business and tourism in Odisha, Government has put the regional air connectivity projects on the fast track. Jharsuguda airport has been made fully operational with five flights operating from there presently. The airport has been connected with different parts of the country. Two more flights from Jharsuguda to Bangalore and Jharsuguda to Kolkata will be started soon.
This was decided in the State Level Monitoring Committee meeting held under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy in Lok Seva Bhawan conference hall today wherein Principal Secretary Home and General Administration Sanjeeb Chopra outlined the issues for discussion.
Reviewing the progress, the Chief Secretary directed to widen the airstrip at Rourkela for the operation of bigger flights which would benefit the people. Presently, Rourkela airport with 5900 ft runway has been made ready for operation of the 19 sitter flights. Routes like Bhubaneswar, Kolkata and Raipur have been decided for the airport. Airport Authority of India has also floated the bidding inviting offer from airlines operators. Tripathy further directed to complete the construction of the terminal building, runway and other associated infrastructure at Jeyopore airport in Koraput district as per the master plan of works departments with an estimated cost of Rs. 55 cr. The progress regarding the development of Utkela airstrip in Kalahandi district showed that the social impact study has already been completed and submitted to Government. No major issues of displacement and rehabilitation are involved in it. The process for land acquisition has been started. Chief Secretary directed to complete the process within the scheduled time.
Discussions in the meeting showed that 4 airstrips of Odisha were selected for UDAN scheme. These were airstrips at Rourkela, Jharsuguda, Utkela ( Kalahandi) and Jeypore ( Koraput). Biju Pattanaik International Air Port, Bhubaneswar would serve as mentor airport. Director of Civil Aviation, Himansu Bhusan Panda appraised that as of now, Jharsuguda has been connected with Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Raipur. Two more flights to Bangalore and Kolkata would come up shortly from Jharsuguda.
It may be pertinent here to mention that Odisha Govt is providing both the manpower and financial support to make the regional connectivity scheme viable during initial periods. State govt has decided to reduce VAT from 5% to 1% and provide 20% of the Viable Gap Funding. State Govt will also provide land, security and fire services. Around 43 security personnel and 9 fire service personnel will be deployed in each airport. Apart from that State Govt would also provide the manpower for management of airport of Jeypore and Utkela. The electricity and water would also be provided by the State Government at concessional rates. The routes like Bhubaneswar to Utkela, Utklela to Raipur, Bhubaneswar to Jeypore, Bhubaneswar to Jharsuguda, Jharsuguda to Ranchi, and Bhubaneswar to Rourkela have been suggested for regional connectivity. State Govt has decided to support the regional air connectivity scheme as a part of its ‘Make in Odisha initiative’.
Odisha Director General of Police (DGP) Bijay Kumar Sharma, Principal Secretary Finance Ashok Kumar Meena, Principal Secretary General Administration Sanjeeb Chopra, Revenue and Disaster Management N.B. Dhal, Inspector General Fire Services Asit Kumar Panigrahi, Secretary Works Krishan Kumar, Director Civil Aviation Himanshu Bhusan Panda along with senior officers from AAI, Concerned Airports participated in the discussions. the Collectors of the concerned districts appraised about updates at ground level in the meeting through video conferencing.