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Flights from Odisha’s Jharsuguda to start in February

IANS | Bhubaneswar |

Flight operations, under a regional connectivity scheme, will start from Odisha’s Jharsuguda airport by the first week of February next year, said an official on Wednesday.

The air service will connect Jharsuguda, Raipur and Jagdalpur under the Central government’s subsidised Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme.

It was discussed at the state-level Coordination and Monitoring Committee meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi here.

Pointing out that the infrastructure of the airstrip at Rourkela is ready for flight operations, the Chief Secretary directed that the process for finalisation of operational details for Rourkela airstrip be expedited.

Padhi also directed that Utkela and Jeypore airstrips be readied by March 2018.

The flight operator company informed the government that regional connectivity from Kolkata to Rourkela has been scheduled to be started from January 23.

Director General of Police Rajendra Prasad Sharma apprised the meeting that a total of 135 police and 27 fire personnel from Odisha government have already been trained for providing security and fire services in the regional airports.

Available data shows that five airstrips of Odisha, including Biju Patnaik International Airport, have been selected for Phase-I of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)-UDAN. The other four airstrips are Rourkela, Jharsuguda, Utkela (Kalahandi) and Jeypore (Koraput).

The Biju Patnaik International Airport will serve as mentor airport for RCS, said the official.

The Jharsuguda airport has been developed under the joint aegis of Airport Authority of India and Odisha government.

The Rourkela airstrip will be operated by AAI with security and fire personnel support from the state government. The other airstrips at Jeypore and Utkela are being developed with funding from both the state government and AAI.

Notably, the Odisha government is providing both the manpower and financial support to make the regional connectivity scheme viable during initial periods.

The state government has decided to reduce Value Added Tax from five per cent to one per cent on Aviation Turbine Fuel and provide 20 per cent of the Viable Gap Funding. Electricity and water would also be provided at a minimum rate.

It is expected that such subsidies and financial assistance will keep the ticket cost at an affordable level.

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.