Regional Connectivity Current Affairs

Government sets up inter-ministerial panel to monitor UDAN

The Union Government has set up an ‘Inter- Ministerial Monitoring-cum-Coordination Committee’ to monitor the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme.

UDAN is regional air connectivity scheme (RCS) which seeks to make flying affordable by connecting unserved and under-served airports.

Key Facts
  • The committee will be responsible for coordination among stakeholders, including state governments for “time-bound” implementation of the scheme.
  • It will also monitor schemes of promotion of regional connectivity by way of revival of unserved and under-served airports/airstrips and UDAN.
  • It will be chaired by Civil Aviation Secretary and will have representations from the ministries of Finance, Defence, Home as well as Petroleum and Natural Gas.
  • Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman, representatives from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), BCAS (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security), officials of airlines and states concerned will be also its part.
Background

The Union Civil Aviation Ministry already has awarded 128 routes connecting 70 airports to 5 airlines, under the scheme UDAN Scheme. In the flights operated under RCS, around 50% of the seats will have a fare cap Rs 2,500 per seat/hour. Apart from various incentives, the operators of such flights will be extended viability gap funding (VGF) for which money is partly raised through a levy imposed on flights operating in major routes. The VGF will be in place for three years for the airlines concerned from the date of starting operations in a particular UDAN route. Operators will be provided also other benefits such as zero airport charges and three-year exclusivity on the routes.

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SASEC countries pledges to improve intra-regional connectivity to boost trade & tourism

India and six other South Asian countries of South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) have pledged to improve intra-regional connectivity to boost trade and tourism.

Decision in this regard was taken at the Finance ministers of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Myanmar meeting held in New Delhi to reshape SASEC.  They also came out with the SASEC Vision for 2025 and adopted operational plan 2016-25.

Key Facts
  • SASEC Vision: It is a new strategic road map to guide the sub-region’s development through 2025.
  • It reflects member nations’ commitment to tap into latent industrial demand and promote sub-regional industry-to-industry links
  • Operational plan 2016-25: It defines the strategic objectives and operational priorities in transport, trade facilitation and energy as well as for the development of economic corridor.
  • The members are eying for $70 billion incremental GDP and 20 million jobs by 2025 so that SASEC become better, stronger and faster to make South Asia one of the fastest growing sub-regions in the world.
  • Other decisions taken in the meeting: Member countries sought to improve trade of oil and gas among themselves and also enhance road connectivity.
  • They also looked to leverage natural resources-based industries, promote industry-to-industry links and bolster connectivity to boost trade and tourism
  • They also sought to improve people-to-people contact by developing gateways and hubs to expand the sub-region’s trade and commerce to regional and global markets.

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