Number of air-passengers benefitting from the government's Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) has come down in 2022-23.
A Parliamentary standing Committee took note of the dwindling numbers and has sought an explanation from the Ministry.
In its latest report, the Committee noted that there has been a fluctuation in the number of RCS passengers who have benefitted from the UDAN Scheme. While the number of RCS passengers rose from 3 lakh (2017-18), to 12 lakh (2018-19), to 31 lakh (2019-20) after the initiation of the Scheme in 2016, it dipped to 15 lakh in 2020-21.
"Though, the number of RCS passengers benefitted grew to 33 lakh in 2021-22, it has again come down to 20 lakh passengers as on 31.01.2023. The Committee would like to know the reasons for the reduction in number of passengers benefitting from this Scheme during 2022-23. The Committee also desires to know the details of plans for the year 2023-24, wherein the Ministry aims to increase the number of passengers benefited to 30 lakh," said the Demand for Grants (2023-24)n report of Civil Aviation Ministry.
It also noted that as per the Output Outcome Monitoring Framework for 2022-23 (till 31.12.2022), the Ministry has not been able to achieve the targets in most cases, with achievements in the range of 40 per cent to 67per cent only. Only in the case of passengers travelled in NER, it has achieved a percentage of 261.5 per cent.
"The Committee notes the low performance of the Ministry on almost all the constituents of the RCS-UDAN Scheme, except one. The Committee hopes that with the increased allocation, the Ministry would do meticulous planning to ensure full utilisation of funds and achievement of targets," said the report.
The Civil Aviation Ministry launched Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) -UDAN on October 21, 2016. RCS-UDAN is a flagship programme of the Ministry. The primary objective of RCS-UDAN is to facilitate or stimulate regional air connectivity and by making it affordable to masses through measures like concessions by Central Government; State Governments/ Union Territories (UTs); and Airport Operators to reduce the cost of airline operations on regional routes/ other support measures and Viability Gap Funding (VGF) to meet the gap, if any, between the cost of airline operations and expected revenues on such routes.