If things go as per the plan, the tribal dominated Mayurbhanj district will soon have a mini airport. A team of Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials recently visited some places in the district to identify suitable place for the proposed airport.
In an effort to boost intra-state and inter-state civil aviation facilities, the Government had earlier decided to develop at least five new airports in the State.
The four-member AAI team surveyed about 193 acres of land in Rajabasa, nearly 7 km from Baripada town. The team members included joint general manager (plan) PK Mohapatra, Nitin Atal and assistant managers Anurag Mishra and Ramesh Chandra.
At least 300 acres of land with the runways of 1.5 km are required for development of the mini airports. After the land survey, Mohapatra said the team has been asked to study the feasibility of land acquisition and explore the possibilities of developing the proposed airports in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts in the north-east zone.
“We have already completed the survey in both the districts and would submit the report soon,” he said.
The locals of Baripada are, however, apprehensive of the proposal as the land surveyed by the AAI team at Rajabasa belongs to the King of Mayurbhanj and is not sufficient to be developed as an airport.
If the AAI wants 300 acres for the airport, it would have to acquire at least 107 acres of private land which may not be easy. Hence, they urged the administration to locate a patch of government land for the purpose.
The locals also suggested that the century old Amarda airstrip at Rasgobindapur, which had provided massive support to the British troops during the Word War-II and is now abandoned, could be developed to a full-fledged airport.
This airfield, known as Asia’s largest air complex during the Second World War, is now spread over an area of nearly 160 acres while as much area has already been encroached privately.
Baripada Sub-collector Radhakrushna Rout said the team had surveyed the land in Rajabasa.
“The district administration would try to provide private land for the project, if the team selects the place,” he added.