Himachal Pradesh is all set to get more air connectivity in the second round of bidding for the regional connectivity scheme UDAN or Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The scheme connects 25 underserved airports and 31 underserved helipads.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said providing air connectivity to far-flung areas of the hill state was discussed with the PM during his visit to Delhi.
This would certainly boost the tourism sector, besides saving journey time by road, Thakur said. “I am concerned about improving both road and air connectivity and with the initiative taken by the Centre, a small state like HP would be catering to the needs of tourists in a better way,” he said.
Under the scheme helicopter services will be provided at cheaper rates from various destinations. The routes include Kasauli to Shimla, Manali to Kullu, Mandi to Dharamshala, Kullu and Shimla, Nathpa Jhakri, to Rampur, Rampur to Nathpa-Jhakri and Shimla and Shimla to Kasauli, Mandi and Rampur.
One will have to pay Rs 2,500 per seat for an hour’s flight by aeroplane or a journey covered in 30 minutes by helicopter, he said, adding that as of now 19 states has been brought under the scheme.
Education minister Suresh Bhardwaj, Forest minister Govind Thakur and Health Minister Vipin Parmar also thanked the PM for providing more air connectivity to HP. They said this was proof that even in just a month the government has proved beneficial to the people of the state.
A blueprint for the promotion of tourism was being prepared and for that road and air connectivity will play an important role, they added.
They said helicopter operators were expected to commence operations within a few months, except where the airports or helipads require significant upgradation.
In the first phase, the PM had on 27 April 2017, inaugurated the maiden Shimla-New Delhi flight under the regional connectivity scheme.