The Centre has laid down firm conditions on Chhattisgarh Government on acquisition and hand over of land which it says should be available 'free of cost and free from all encumbrances' prior to development of Bilaspur and Raigarh airports.
For development of Bilaspur and Raigarh airport in Chhattisgarh, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has projected the requirement of 387.3 acres of land at Bilaspur and permanent transfer of the existing airport land of 23 acres along with an additional 569 acres of land at Raigarh, the Central Government has informed.
Notably, two airports in Chhattisgarh mainly one each at Bilaspur and Raipur belong to AAI.
The Swami Vivekananda Airport in Raipur has already been upgraded to international standards with Integrated Terminal Building.
Although, Indian carriers are free to mount services from any point in India to foreign destinations as per the respective bilateral air service agreements, actual operations are always guided by traffic demand and commercial judgement of airlines, the Government informed.
It may be recalled that the AAI has commenced the process for developing small airports in Chhattisgarh under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS).
AAI would be seeking assistance of a Consultant for having talks with Chhattisgarh Government on land related matters pertaining to Airports and Aeronautical Communication Stations (ACSs) in the existing and upcoming airports to be developed by the civil aviation body in Chhattisgarh, official sources informed.
AAI has also agreed to Indian Army’s proposal to hand over Bilaspur Airport for joint user needs subject to the condition of retaining 53 acres of land area for development of a Civil Enclave at the Airport, the Central Government has informed.
Notably, Bilaspur Airport is a non-operational airport which belongs to AAI.
AAI carried out a pre-feasibility study at Jagdalpur airport and found the airport suitable for usage of 2C aircraft in Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions.
The State Government has decided to develop Jagdalpur Airport and has submitted drawings to AAI, which have been approved by AAI and communicated to the State Government. So far AAI has not received any development plan for Ambikapur Airport from the State Government.
The AAI has signed an MoU with the State Government for development and operationalisation of Raigarh Airport on July 23, 2013. AAI has prepared the Master Plan of the Airport and forwarded it to the State Government for allotment of requisite land and funds.
On the other hand, Chhattisgarh is bracing up to ensure effective implementation of project ‘UDAN’ of the Union Civil Aviation Ministry for enabling regional flight connectivity.
Notably, the Ministry has signed MoU on RCS-UDAN with the states of Mizoram, Puducherry, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
A pre-bid meeting was held on November 11 this year with all the stakeholders including states and airline operators to facilitate the effective and efficient implementation of the scheme.
The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)-UDAN in October, 2016, to promote regional air connectivity in the country including North Eastern region and creating additional infrastructure by revival of unserved and underserved airports/airstrips.
The scheme has been finalised after extensive consultation with all the stakeholders including State Governments. Suggestions were received from stakeholders including the states at the time of consultation with public/stakeholders on the draft Scheme.
The indicative list of underserved and unserved airports in India of the Scheme also includes Defence airports. However, for such airports, approval from Ministry of Defence needs to be obtained for permitting joint use/civil operation under the Scheme.
The primary objective of RCS is to facilitate / stimulate regional air connectivity by making it affordable. Promoting affordability of Regional air connectivity is envisioned under RCS by supporting airline operators through (i) concessions by Central Government, State Governments and airport operators to reduce the cost of airline operations on regional routes and (ii) financial support (Viability Gap Funding or VGF) to meet the gap, if any, between the cost of airline operations and expected revenues on such routes.
RCS-UDAN is a demand-driven scheme, where airline operators undertake assessment of demand on particular routes.
A Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) has been created under powers conferred under Rule 88-B of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 to provide the VGF requirements under the scheme. The Central Government has decided to impose a levy on the scheduled flights being operated within India to fund the Regional Connectivity Fund. However, following flights has been exempted from the above mentioned levy.
Notably, Chhattisgarh has signed MoU with the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation for promoting Centre’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) in the State, officials informed.
Notably the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation is in the process of signing of MoU with State Governments to ensure their commitment and support to regional air transport operations by providing concessions as required under the RCS for making it successful.
The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation had earlier released the draft Regional Air Connectivity Scheme (RCS) for stakeholder consultation, with the twin objectives of promoting balanced regional growth and making flying affordable for masses.
The RCS is the key component of the National Civil Aviation Policy which was released by the Ministry on June 15, 2016. The scheme, which would be in operation for a period of 10 years, envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports.
This would be achieved through a financial stimulus in the form of Central and State government concessions, as well as Viability Gap Funding to the interested airlines to kick-off operations from such airports, so that the passenger fares are kept affordable.
The fare for a one hour journey of appx. 500 km on a fixed wing aircraft or for a 30 minute journey on a helicopter would now be capped at Rs 2,500, with proportionate pricing for routes of different lengths / duration.
To reduce the cost of operations, Central Government would be providing concessions in the form of reduced Excise on VAT, service tax and flexibility of code sharing at the RCS airports.
Similarly, the State governments would have to lower the VAT on ATF to 1% or less, besides security and fire services free of cost and electricity, water and other utilities at substantially concessional rates. Similarly, landing and Parking charge and Terminal Navigation landing Charges shall not be imposed by the airport operator.
A Regional Connectivity Fund would be created to fund the VGF requirements under the scheme. The same would be funded through a levy on certain domestic flights.
The partner State Governments would also contribute a 20% share to this fund (10% for North Eastern States). For balanced regional growth, the allocations under the scheme would be equitably spread across the 5 geographical regions of the country viz North, West, South, East and North-east.
The States have been given a key role under the scheme. The selection of airports where RCS operations would be done in consultation with State Government and after confirmation of their concessions. This will be based on the selection of routes by the airline operators.
Notably, Chief Minister Raman Singh on January 26 had performed bhoomi pujan for construction of terminal building and for taking up expansion works for Jagdalpur airport in Bastar.
The Chief Minister while addressing gathering said that with the construction of terminal building, flights would be started soon which will surely benefit the people of Bastar division.
The State government has inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Air India for launching flights whereas the monetary loss to the airline if any would be borne by the State government as per the MoU, Singh further said.
However, he expressed hope that there would be no loss for providing air services as most of the people want to travel by air from Jagdalpur.
Meanwhile, Bastar District Collector Amit Kataria said that the State government has approved Rs 25 crore for the fiscal 2016-17 to develop infrastructure for providing passenger air services in Bastar division.