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Low-cost airports for state

- Rourkela, Keonjhar & Berhampur on radar

Bhubaneswar, July 2: The ministry of civil aviation will develop three low-cost airports at Rourkela, Keonjhar and Berhampur. This will be part of the infrastructure target of the Centre for 2013-14, in which 51 low-cost airports will be developed at various locations in 11 states.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) will build the low-cost airports. Apart from Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra will benefit from the infrastructure development.

AAI officials said the decision was taken by the Prime Minister at a meeting in New Delhi, on June 28, to finalise the infrastructure targets for 2013-14.

Sources in AAI said the low-cost airports would cost around Rs 300 crore each or less depending upon the locality and the infrastructure needs. “Odisha will benefit, as the airports will link the mining and industrial belts and the southern business city Berhampur with the civil aviation map of the nation,’’ said GW Bawa, AAI general manager (public relations).

Director of Biju Patnaik Airport Sharad Kumar said: “We are already planning to make Jharsuguda a functional airport within two years in collaboration with the Odisha government. On the other hand, a survey has been done to see the probability of air connectivity with Jeypore, but more land is needed there.’’

“The business travel and tourism promotion will be more effective in Odisha with all these locations coming on the aviation map in future,” Kumar said. The meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office also decided to confer international status to Biju Patnaik Airport. The creation of counters for immigration, customs and other infrastructure development have been completed with an investment of Rs 2.66 crore.

The international terminal will have 16 employees of the customs, 16 from the Bureau of Immigration, three from the health department, two from the animal husbandry department and one plant manager from the Odisha University of Agriculture Technology for the immediate requirement of the international operations.

However, international operations from Bhubaneswar are only possible only after a gazette notification by the Centre. “Imphal airport, which is also likely to get the international tag along with Bhubaneswar, may be ready after two months. So, the Biju Patnaik Airport may have to wait till August to get the status along with Imphal,’’ said a senior AAI official.