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Northeast important to government’s plans of making air connectivity nation’s lifeline: Scindia

Northeast important to government’s plans of making air connectivity nation’s lifeline: Scindia

While launching several new flights between the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram, the minister also announced two new international routes from the northeast region to Bangladesh and Myanmar as part of the country’s Act East policy.

Northeast important to government’s plans of making air connectivity nation’s lifeline: Scindia Northeast important to government’s plans of making air connectivity nation’s lifeline: Scindia

Union minister of civil aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia has said that the northeast was an important part of the central government’s strategy of making air connectivity the country’s lifeline even as he launched several new flights within the region.

Informing that while in 2013-14 India had only 70 airports, the minister said the country currently boasted 141 airports, water aerodromes and heliports. Over the next four years, this would be increased to over 200 airports.

“The northeast is an important component of this expansion. In 2013, where we had only nine airports in the northeast,” he said, adding, “Today, under the prime minister’s directive, we have additional airports in Lilabari, Tezpur and Rupsi in Assam, Tezu, Pasighat and, very soon, the new airport in Hollongi, in Arunachal Pradesh, and Pakyong, in Sikkim. So, we have built close to about seven new airports in the last eight years.”

Scindia was speaking at the virtual launch of six new departures on the Imphal-Aizwal, Aizwal-Imphal, Lilabari-Ziro, Ziro-Lilabari, Shillong-Lilabari and Lilabari-Shillong routes in the presence of the union minister of law and justice, Kiren Rijiju, minister of state of civil aviation, Gen. (Retd) Vijay Kumar Singh and chief ministers of the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya, and the state tourism minister of Mizoram.

The civil aviation minister noted that air connectivity was not merely about launching domestic and international flights, nor was it about launching flights between Tier-I cities, but it rather implied reaching every corner of India.

Fund for developing air connectivity in northeast

The minister said that a Rs 500 crore corpus had been set aside for enhancing both inter and intra-northeast connectivity. Of the 1,095 routes awarded under the Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik-Regional Connectivity Scheme (UDAN-RCS), 136 or 14 per cent of routes had been awarded in the northeast.

“Under UDAN 4.2, out of 132 routes, 24 routes have been dedicated to the northeast. So, almost about 18 per cent of the total routes have been dedicated to the northeast,” the minister said.

Reiterating the role of air connectivity in advancing the potential of the northeast not only within the country but also overseas, the minister also announced two international routes from the region as part of India’s Act East policy.

“We would also like to announce that we will be starting two new international routes under international UDAN-RCS… Agartala-Chittagong-Agartala and Imphal-Mandalay-Imphal. We are expanding the scope from regional connectivity to national connectivity to international connectivity for the northeast,” he remarked.

He further mentioned how the convergence scheme involving eight ministries for the transportation of horticultural produce, Krishi UDAN, was helping reach chillies, jackfruit, lemons and grapes from the region to markets in the UK, Germany and the UAE.

The minister also praised Vineet Sood, the CEO of India’s largest regional carrier, Alliance Air, for taking the lead over other Indian carriers in enhancing regional connectivity.