Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya M Scindia on Monday said the Centre plans setting up a Greenfield airport at Puri and Phase-II expansion of Jharsuguda Airport apart from making two more small airports operational in Odisha. Scindia said this while attending the Udan Utsav celebrations at the Veer Surendra Sai Airport in Odisha‘s Jharsuguda.
“The Greenfield Airport at Puri and the Phase II expansion of Veer Surendra Sai Airport in Jharsuguda will commence following responses from the state government,” the minister said.
He said that Prime Minister Modi has “democratised the Indian Air Space” for the common man which was once in the domain of rich people.
The common people could now get an opportunity to travel by air, which was once a dream for them, Scindia said.
He said that the development of Jharsuguda airport, which was inaugurated on this day by the Prime Minister on November 22, 2018, is a perfect example of cooperative federalism and a great success story of Udan scheme.
He pointed out that of Rs 225 crore invested for the development of Jharsuguda airport, the state government has contributed Rs 75 crore while the remaining Rs 150 crore came from the Centre.
Scindia thanked Odisha government and said that this project is a classic example of development through federal cooperation.
While highlighting the importance of Jharsuguda airport, Scindia said that while all airports around the country were witnessing a steep decline in the number of flyers during the COVID-19 pandemic time, Jharsuguda airport was among those few, which remained resilient.
“The number of flyers across the country during the pandemic saw a decline of 62% while Jharsuguda during the same period, witnessed a mere drop of 5%. This shows the potential of the district and the region at large,” the Union Minister said.
On the success of Udan scheme over the years, he said that the country had only 72 airports since independence while after 2014, the number of airports now stood at 136.
“We have set a target to increase this number by 220 in the next five years which will include helipads and water aerodromes.
The number of airlines, routes have also increased significantly over the years due to the advent of Udan scheme,” Scindia added.
Speaking of the glory of the rich land of Jharsuguda and terming this western Odisha town as the ‘Power House of Odisha’ and India at large, Scindia said that the place, which is a home to many brave freedom fighters, natural and cultural resources, was aptly chosen to celebrate the Udan Utsav.
He also announced a Special Joy Ride, an air ride, being planned for the elderly and children during the Udan Utsav celebrations which will also commemorate the ongoing Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
The Union Minister said that plans are afoot to increase flight frequency from Jharsuguda.
Currently, Spice Jet and Alliance Air are operating flights to Kolkata, Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar and Raipur. It sees an average footfall of 28,000 fliers every month.
“Nearly 180 acres of land is required for the phase-II development of Jharsuguda airport. Since Jharsuguda is a key agricultural belt, the Krishi Udan scheme can be used to assist farmers to transport agriculture products” he added.
Scindia added that his Ministry is also expecting a report from the state government to resolve the issues of permission and licensing for Jeypore and Utkela airports in Odisha.
The minister also flagged off a new air route between Shilong and Dimapur under RCS Scheme.