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State urges Centre to run small airports
With huge possibilities of growing air traffic, the State Government has approached the Centre to take up the operation and maintenance of small airports to promote air connectivity in the State.
The State administration strongly feels that if the Union Government will accede to the request, and ask the Airport Authority of India (AAI), then small airports like Jeypore, Utkela and Rourkela will provide ample scope for air journey.
In fact, AAI Chairman Guru Prasad Mahapatra is inclined to support the State in this regard. However, the Union Government is to take a call, said a senior official in the Department of General Administration (DoGA), which handles the State civil aviation sector. While the Union Government is pushing the Regional Air Connectivity (RCS) Scheme Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagarik (UDAN) in a big way in otherStates, the Odisha Government has approached the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) in this regard.
Under RCS-UDAN, the Government of India is only providing 80 per cent of the Viability Gap Funding (VGF), whereas the State Government is asked to bear bulk of the cost of operating an airport along with its management.
In order to make RCS-UDAN a success, the Government of India should ask the AAI to take up operation and maintenance of small airports, pointed out a senior official in the State Government.
While under the RCS-UDAN, it has been decided by the Government of India to connect Bhubaneswar with Jeypore, Utkela, Jharsuguda and Rourkela, however, starting air service from these airports is getting delayed due to several reasons.
However, Jharsuguda is getting ready for air connectivity as the DGCA has already inspected the aerodrome and soon it will issue the licences for air operations during the day time.
While the Government of India has proposed the inter State flight operations from Bhubaneswar-Utkela, Raipur, Bhubaneswar-Jharsuguda-Ranchi, Kolkata-Rourkela and Jharsuguda-Raipur, movement in this regard has slowed down. In the meantime, the State Government has decided to provide 20 per cent Viability Gap Funding (VGF) and the Government of India will bear 80 per cent of the VGF, so that the air fare will be limited to Rs 2,500 for one hour flying.
This will help the local people to fly in the air with inter State air connectivity.
The State Government has also requested the Union Government to consider the air connectivity from Bhubaneswar to Tata Nagar, Hyderabad, and Vishakhapatnam under the RCS-UDAN.
The State administration has urged the Centre to take a time-bound decision in this regard, so that air operations can be started at an early date.
While Rourkela has been selected under the RCS-UDAN, as the airport belongs to Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), the Centre has been urged to approach the SAIL to allow Rourkela as RCS Airport with its own security, management and fire services.
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