The Odisha government recently submitted the details of operational airstrips under it to the Centre to boost regional air connectivity.
The State Government has proposed six destinations to provide air connectivity from Bhubaneswar. The proposed towns are Rourkela, Jeypore, Sambalpur, Tusura (Balangir), Utkela (Kalahandi) and Rangeilunda (Ganjam). All these places have airstrips.
The state government has also urged the Centre to use different slabs of air fare to promote regional connectivity. It has suggested that for an hour flying Rs 2500 and half an hour Rs 1500 be charged.
“The State Government is taking steps to expand the runway length of Rangeilunda and Jeypore airstrip to 5000 ft but it will take a year to complete the work,” said a letter from the General Administration Department to the Ministry.
Instead of having air connectivity to Angul, the State Capital may be connected with Sambalpur with a stoppage at Angul, the letter stated.
According to official sources, Odisha has 17 airstrips and 16 helipads. However, many existing airstrips don’t have boundary walls making them vulnerable in terms of safety of runway. Sometimes animal menace also becomes a great problem. Some airports also require renovation and extension of runways.
Earlier, the tourism minister Ashok Panda had urged the Centre to connect Bhubaneswar with important neighbouring cities like Raipur in Chhattisgarh, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Ranchi in Jharkhand and Kolkata in West Bengal.
Currently, the state government charges five per cent Vat on aviation turbine fuel for domestic flights while no Vat is charged on fuel for international flights.