BHUBANESWAR: Air connectivity from Bhubaneswar to the industrial township of Jharsuguda under 'Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik' (UDAN), a regional connectivity scheme of the Centre, is likely to begin from September this year.
"We have decided to operationalise the flight route between Bhubaneswar and Jharsuguda from September and for other routes like Bhubaneswar-Jeypore, Bhubaneswar-Rourkela and Bhubaneswar-Utkela we need some time for the preparations before they are opened up for flights," Chief Secretary A P Padhi told mediapersons.Padhi reviewed the progress of the regional air connectivity under UDAN at the first State-level monitoring-cum-coordination committee meeting here on Wednesday.
The Chief Secretary directed the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to complete the first phase works in Jharsuguda airstrip and make it ready for flight operation by September 1. He further asked the authority to expedite the preparatory works at other airstrips.Five airstrips of the State have been selected for inclusion in UDAN scheme. Biju Patnaik International Airport will work as mentor airport. The other four airstrips are located at Rourkela, Jharsuguda, Utkela in Kalahandi district and Jeypore in Koraput district.
A State-level monitoring-cum-coordination committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary involving Home, AAI, representatives from regional connectivity airlines, and oil companies for ensuring effective implementation of the scheme.The State Government had signed an MOU on RCS-UDAN with Ministry of Civil Aviation and Airports Authority of India in March, 2017.
For facilitating the regional connectivity during initial periods, the State Government has decided to reduce VAT on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) from 5 to 1 per cent and provide 20 per cent of the viable gap fund (VGF).
The State, which has provided land for the airstrips, will also bear the cost of security and fire services. Electricity and water will also be supplied at nominal cost.Air routes like Bhubaneswar to Utkela, Utklela to Raipur and Jharsuguda to Ranchi and Bhubaneswar to Rourkela were suggested for regional connectivity.
The State Government has decided to provide subsidies to keep air fare affordable. As per initial calculations, the average price of a subsidised ticket to be paid by the passengers for these flights would be around `2,500, Special Secretary General Administration A K Meena said.