Jharsuguda airstrip in Odisha will be made into a full-fledged airport and become operational for regional connectivity services under UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) scheme by October, 2017, official sources said. A decision to this regard was taken at the State Level Coordination and Monitoring Committee meeting held under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary A P Padhi. He asked the Director General of Police (DGP) R P Sharma, present in the meeting, to depute officers for airport security and fire service training. Earlier, a target was set to develop the Jharsuguda airstrip into a full-fledged airport by April, 2018 following the MoU signed between the Odisha govenrment and the Airports Authority of India (AAI). Padhi also directed officials to expedite the work of the development of the airstrips at Jeypore and Utkela and make those UDAN-ready within 5 months. At least five spots in Odisha were selected for UDAN scheme. These were Bhubaneswar airport, airstrips at Rourkela, Jharsuguda, Utkela (Kalahandi) and Jeypore (Koraput).
From among these, Biju Pattanaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar, would serve as mentor airport. Of the remaining four, Jharsuguda airport would be developed jointly by the AAI and Odisha government. The state government and AAI have requested Rourkela Steel Plant to make the Rourkela airstrip ready for UDAN. The other airstrips at Jeypore and Utkela would be developed with funding from both the state government and AAI. Padhi said the state government has been providing both manpower and financial support to make the regional connectivity scheme viable during the initial period.
The state government has also decided to reduce VAT from 5 per cent to 1 per cent and provide 20 per cent of the Viable Gap Funding. The state government will also provide land, security and fire services. Around 44 security personnel and 9 fire service personnel will be deployed in each airport. Apart from that, the state government would also provide manpower for management of the airports of Jeypore and Utkela. Electricity and water would also be provided at minimum rate.
The routes like Bhubaneswar to Utkela, Utklela to Raipur, Bhubaneswar to Jeypore, Bhubaneswar to Jharsuguda, Jharsuguda to Ranchi, and Bhubaneswar to Rourkela have been suggested for regional connectivity, said Ashok Kumar Meena, special secretary in the general administration department. Meena said the state government has decided to provide these subsidies and financial assistance for regional air connectivity as a part of its ‘Make in Odisha’ initiative. It is expected that such subsidies and financial assistance will keep the ticket cost at affordable level, he said. The average price of a ticket to be paid by the passengers for these flights is capped at Rs 2,500.