Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched the ambitious ‘Udan’, a regional connectivity scheme (Udey Desh Ka Har Nagrik) from Shimla to make the air travel affordable to the common man in the country.

Holding that his government is laying the foundation of ‘New India’, Modi termed the citizens in the middle class and the middle rung cities in the country as the engines of growth for the country in the next decade. He said that his government’s policies will focus on these two ‘powers’.

“Our aim is that hawai chappal wale log bhi hawai Jahaz ke sair kar saken,” he said after flagging off the Delhi-Shimla flight and the flights for, Kadapa-Hyderabad and Nanded-Hyderabad sectors through video-conferencing.

The ‘Udan’ would provide air connectivity on low cost fares on unserved and remote routes across the country.

PM arrived by IAF chopper from Chandigarh despite rainy weather and was received by governor, Acharya Devvrat, chief minister, Virbhadra Singh, Union health minister, JP Nadda and leader of opposition, Prem Kumar Dhumal at the Jubbarhatti airport in Shimla. He was accompanied by Union ministers P Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Jayant Sinha.

Modi said that earlier it was believed that air travel is meant only for Raja-Maharaja and elite class and even the in the 'logo' of Air India carried picture of maharaja.

He said he had raised this issue with Ravindra Pratap Rudy, the then Civil Aviation minister in the Vajpayee government as well.

He said that common man caricature of cartoonist Laxman should be incorporated in the logo.

Modi said that the youth of India has huge potential and “wish taking capacity” and given an opportunity, they can change the “fate and picture” of the country and better connectivity can play a major role.

The PM said 70 airports came up in 70 years for commercial operations in the country. “But we have a aviation policy and are developing 30 airports in one year,” he said.

Modi said the air fare had been capped under UDAN. “It would now be less than the taxi fare and cut short the travelling hours to minutes,” he said.

Advising the Aviation Companies to connect ‘Nanded-Amritsar-Patna’, Modi said that it would be good commercial proposition as Sikhs from all over the World would travel on this circuit.

The PM also laid foundation stone of the Hydro Engineering College (at Bilaspur) with a click from Jubbarhatti. He said the college would help in providing specially trained manpower for Hydro power sector which has vast potential of over 1.5 lakh MW.