Regional Connectivity Scheme Current Affairs
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated new airport in Jharsuguda – also known as the powerhouse of Odisha. PM also flagged off the UDAN flight on Jharsuguda-Raipur sector. It is first airport in Odisha to provide necessary connectivity to Bhubaneswar, Raipur and Ranchi under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)-UDAN (UdeDesh Ka AamNaagrik) Scheme. Other than Jharsuguda, three more airports are being developed in Odisha namely, Jeypore (Koraput District), Rourkela (Sundargarh District) and Utkela (Kalahandi District) to provide connectivity to remote and far flung areas of coastal state under Regional Connectivity Scheme.
Jharsuguda is the second airport of Odisha after Bhubaneswar to become operational. It has been developed by Airports Authority of India (AAI) in collaboration with Odisha Government. The airport is spread across over 1027.5 acres of land. Area of its terminal Building is around 4000 sqm.
The airport has 2390 metre-long runway and has been developed for all weather operations including night operations for A-320 type of aircraft. It is equipped with state-of-the-art passenger facilities. Interiors of its building depict local handicrafts, artwork and tourist destinations of state highlighting rich ethos and culture of region. The airport will play significant role in development of Western Odisha and will give impetus to the growing tourism industry in the region.
UDAN is flagship scheme of Central Government introduced to enable air operations on unserved routes, connecting regional areas, to promote balanced regional growth and to make flying affordable for masses.
The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has awarded 325 air routes under the second phase of government’s flagship UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam naagrik) regional connectivity scheme. Around 40% or 129 of 325 air routes were awarded to newly created category of ‘priority areas’ that include Jammu and Kashmir, Northeastern and hill states, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands,
The routes under phase-II were awarded to 15 airlines and helicopter operators after bidding process. These include major domestic airlines such as SpiceJet, IndiGo, Jet Airways and Air India subsidiary Alliance Air and four helicopter operators — Heligo Charters, Heritage Aviation, Pawan Hans, and Skyone Airways
Airports to be connected under phase-II: Total 78 airports i.e. 36 served airports, 13 underserved airports and 29 unserved airports will be connected. In addition, 31 helipads/ heliports will be connected through Helicopters in priority areas.
Viability Gap Funding (VGF) Outflow: These proposed routes will get VGF estimated at Rs. 487 crores per annum for fixed wing operations and Rs. 130 crores for Helicopter operations per annum in the Priority areas. The government provides VGF or subsidy for 50% of seats set aside for being offered at discounted rates by airlines and all seats up to 13 passenger seats for helicopters.
UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam naagrik) Scheme
The 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 also aims to make flying affordable by providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the 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.