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Jharsuguda ready to soar

Bhubaneswar, July 30: The state government and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) today inked a deal to develop the existing airport in the west Odisha industrial hub of Jharsuguda into a full-fledged one with landing facility for Airbus 320 aircraft.

Jharsuguda has a concentration of metallurgical industries such as steel and aluminium. Vedanta Group’s 1.75-million tonne aluminium smelter and 2,400MW power plant are located in the industrial town. Aditya Birla Group has one of its largest cement units at Dhutra in the district. There are also a number of thermal power plants in the district.

Jharsuguda is centrally located in west Odisha and is 95km from Rourkela.

“A full-fledged airport will definitely provide better connectivity for the officials and businessmen, as till now, they have to depend on Bhubaneswar (363km) or Raipur (364km),” said Bibhudutta Mohapatra, general manager of the Aditya Birla Group.

With direct air connectivity, officials and associates of Aditya Alumina, Hindalco, Bhusan, Sesa-Sterlite and Ultra Tech Cement in Jharsuguda and industries in Rajganagpur (50km), Bargarh (125km) and Rourkela will benefit.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik said: “The airport at Jharsuguda will ensure better regional development and strengthen industrial growth in the west Odisha region.”

The existing airport has 902.22 acres and the government will provide another 296.50 acres for the facility.

The old existing runway has an air traffic control tower and only charter aircraft use it occasionally. Earlier, the state government’s civil aviation wing had requested the AAI for modernisation of Jharsuguda airport. The government has assured full co-operation for land acquisition and allocated Rs 75 crore as its share for the new airport.

Besides the extended runway, the airport will have apron of 288 metres and associated facilities, new ATC building, isolation bay, technical block, fire station and control tower, upgrade of the navigational and visual aids and ground lighting facilities.

The AAI will get the additional 296.50 acres free of cost. The government will provide 118.75 acres immediately and the rest 177.75 acres in due course.

“At present, only small charter aircraft can land here. But a modern airport with a 1,883-metre runway can facilitate landing of A-320,” said AAI chairman Alok Sinha.

“The state has 15 airstrips and there is also a plan to develop two or three airstrips into smaller airports in order to have more regional connectivity through air,” said director of Biju Patnaik International Airport Sharad Kumar.


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