ROURKELA: Reintroduction of air connectivity to Rourkela city which has been a necessity for industrial growth of Sundargarh district, continues to remain elusive.
The district with large industrial and mining activities along with two noted educational institutions is felt to be a deserving destination for commercial flights.
In fact, Rourkela in the first quarter of 2011 had come close to having commercial flights, but for some reason missed the opportunity as the private airlines AIR Deccan reportedly backed out.
An administrative meeting convened in December 2010 under the chairmanship of the then Rourkela ADM Sachin Ramchandra Jadhav had informed about administration’s involvement in obtaining necessary ground clearances, including measures to obtain mandatory flight and air terminal clearances from the Director-General of Civil Aviation and security go ahead.
It was decided to upgrade the airstrip of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) to handle small size commercial air crafts and AIR Deccan vice-president Sanjay Sehgal too had agreed to press into service its 18-seater Beech 900D aircraft.
Former president of Rourkela Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) Subrata Patnaik said the economic and industrial growth potential of the district cannot be achieved without air-connectivity.
And this despite the fact that Rourkela Steel Plant is nearing target to expand production capacity to 4.5 million tonnes and the National Institute of Technology-Rourkela and the Biju Patnaik University of Technology have taken rapid strides to give a distinct identity to the city.
With the State Government moving ahead to restore the Jharsuguda airport as the second best in Odisha, the chances of Rourkela seem to hang in balance.
Rourkela ADM PC Pathi said no fresh development had taken place. “The city administration would take up the issue with appropriate authorities. In between, a couple of light aircraft had ventured with trial runs, but were not safe worthy,” he said.