In a bid to connect airports and Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) of Northeast India, the Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia along with Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu have flagged off the first flight of Made-in-India HAL Dornier Do-228.
The flight will be operational from Dibrugarh in Assam to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and finally to Lilabari in Assam.
Alliance Air, a public sector airline company, had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a Central Public Sector Unit under Ministry of Defence to operate Indian made Dornier aircraft, which is called Hindustan aircraft.
In line with the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's “AtmaNirbhar Bharat” initiative, Alliance Air becomes the first commercial airline to fly Indian made aircraft for civil operations.
Speaking on the occasion, Scindia said, “In the last 70 years, 74 airports were developed but in last seven years under the visionary leadership of our Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, we have created 66 new airports taking the total to 140 airports operational in the country. In Northeast, nine airports were operationalised but today 15 airports are established in the last seven years.”
The deployment of Indian made Do-228 will be done in a phased manner. In the first phase, 2 Hindustan aircrafts would be stationed at Dibrugarh, to connect Tezu, Pasighat and Ziro. In the second phase of the programme, connectivity to Mechuka, Tuting and Vijoy Nagar has been planned. In the coming 15 days, the airline will connect Tezu and after that, within 30 days, air connectivity to Ziro would commence.
Talking about the civil aviation development plans for Northeast, the Minister elaborated “In Arunachal Pradesh, within six months, a new greenfield airport in Hollongi will be inaugurated with a budgetary allocation of Rs 645.63 crore. At Tezu, 67 crore has been allotted for the upgradation of airport and work is in progress."
"A dedicated budgetary support of Rs 500 crore has been approved by the Ministry for enhancing air connectivity and aviation infrastructure in NER till March, 2024. Out of these Rs 500 crore, about Rs 227 crore is earmarked for development of ALGs and air connectivity in Arunachal Pradesh, making it 50 per cent of the total budget."
At Imphal, the airport would be getting a major up-gradation with a budgetary allocation of Rs 499 crore where a new Integrated Terminal Building and other associated work would be taken up. A new Integrated Terminal Building at Agartala airport with a budgetary support of Rs 438.28 crore has just been completed.
Another Rs 120 crore would be spent on development of runway, taxiway and apron at Agartala airport. At Dibrugarh in Assam, re-carpeting of airport runway has started with Rs 55.54 crore allotted. With all these developments in the airport infrastructure, the air connectivity in NER is going to get a fillip.
In addition to this, about 18 airstrips, heliports/ helipads, water aerodromes are also awarded under UDAN scheme and are being developed in NER with the budgetary allocation of about Rs 182 crore.
In total, more than Rs 2,000 crore will be invested in North East to upgrade and create civil aviation infrastructure by Government of India.
Talking about UDAN scheme, Minister stated “415 routes have been operationalised under the UDAN scheme and over 91 lakh people have benefitted from it. Over 1 lakh 75 thousand flights are flown under this scheme.”
On reduction of VAT on ATF (Aviation Turbine Fuel), the Minister said that “State government of Arunachal Pradesh has also reduced the VAT on ATF (Aviation Turbine Fuel) from 20 per cent to 1 per cent after a virtual meeting with Chief Minister Pema Khandu.”
Development of the North Eastern Region (NER) is not only of strategic importance, but also is a part of India’s growth story. Connectivity in NER is very essential and in many places air transport is the lifeline for movement of people and the cargo. Under “Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN)”, the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has identified NER as a priority area.
This has helped in enhancing inter and intra connectivity for the NER. In this regard, new airports are getting developed and old airports are getting upgraded.
Considering the hilly terrain, helicopter operations under UDAN scheme have been given focus for connectivity. These massive aviation infrastructure developments undertaken by the Ministry of Civil Aviation will boost the immense potential of NER in terms of tourism, adventure sports and economical activities.
Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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