Northeast Current Affairs

Cabinet approves USOF scheme for Meghalaya under CTDP

Union Cabinet has approved implementation of Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP) Project for North Eastern Region (NER) in Meghalaya to improve mobile services. The project has provision of 2G and 4G mobile coverage in identified uncovered areas of Meghalaya and seamless mobile coverage along National Highways in state. It will be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). Cabinet also approved enhanced cost of CTDP Project for NER for amount of Rs 8,120.81 crore. It already has approved Rs 5,336.18 crore on September2014 for the project.

Benefits

CTDP aims to strengthening of telecom network that will result in increase in penetration of mobile connectivity in Meghalaya. It will provide affordable and equitable access of communication, information and governance to people. Connecting unreached people of Meghalaya through public mobile network will empower citizens with benefits of ICTs for furthering socio-economic developments. It will also increase innovative skill of uncovered areas of the state through broadband and internet access.

Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)

USOF was formed by Central Government to help fund projects to boost connectivity in rural areas. The money for this fund comes through ‘Universal Access Levy,’ charged from telecom operators as percentage of various licenses fees being paid by them.

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UDAN scheme: First commercial flight of Arunachal Pradesh lands at Pasighat

The first commercial flight (42-seater ATR aircraft of the Alliance Airlines) of Arunachal Pradesh under UDAN scheme landed at Pasighat airport or Advance Landing Ground (ALG) in East Siang district. This historic moment puts border state on the aviation map of the country.

Key Facts

Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Air India, will operate flight services on Kolkata-Guwahati-Pasighat route thrice a week – on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Pasighat airport is on advance landing ground or ALG, meant to support operations of small aircraft and some military planes. This commercial flight connectivity opens up new vistas of economic development in the region and also provide ample opportunities for tourism industry of the state as it removes connectivity bottleneck faced by bordering state earlier.

Background

Arunachal Pradesh has some 120 helipads and 10 advanced landing grounds, built for defence as well as civil operations. Under UDAN scheme, eight locations in border state have been selected by bidders. Out of which Pasighat and Tezu have been selected for fixed wing.  Ziro, Daporijo, Itanagar, Tuting, Wallong and Yingkiong have been selected for helicopter services.

UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam naagrik) Scheme

UDAN RCS (Regional Connectivity Scheme) was launched in October 2016 to develop the regional aviation market. It is vital component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP), 2016. It aims to make flying affordable by providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of country through revival of existing airstrips and airports so that persons in regional towns are able to take affordable flights.

It is applicable on flights covering distance between 200 km and 800 km with no lower limit set for hilly, remote, island and security sensitive regions. It seeks to reserve a minimum number of UDAN seats i.e. seats at subsidized rates and also cap fare for short distance flights. It has unique market-based model to develop regional connectivity. It has Viability Gap Funding (VDF) mechanism to meet the VGF requirements under the scheme. Airports Authority of India (AAI) is implementing agency of the scheme.

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