Jharsuguda (Odisha) [India], November 22 (ANI): The Ministry of Civil Aviation along with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) commemorated the success of the Regional Connectivity Scheme- UDAN or Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik with 'UDAN Mahotsav' held at Veer Surendra Sai Airport in Odisha's industrial town of Jharsuguda.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia presided over the host of events that marked a gigantic expansion of the Indian aviation sector since the launch of the flagship UDAN scheme in 2016 with a large number of tier-2 and tier-3 cities getting new or upgraded airports.
The event comprised the flagging off of new routes under the regional connectivity scheme, the release of the UDAN manual and the release of the UDAN India@75 logo.
Scindia also felicitated the best airports and airlines under the UDAN scheme.
"I am glad to announce that we are connected with six cities. We are connected with Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata or Raipur. And I am confident that we will work vigorously to achieve our target of connecting entire India with Jharsuguda," said Scindia.
The airport in the industrial town of Jharsuguda is one of those airports that not just facilitate common people's transit in smaller towns of the country but also act as major commercial connectivity points. It is only the second commercial airport in the state.
Since its launch, the Jharsuguda airport has not only provided an impetus to the industrial growth of more than 10 districts but has also proven to be an important junction for the expansion of the tourism industry.
The airport has witnessed a steady rise in footfall since its inauguration and is rapidly catching up with its pre-Covid numbers after its operations were resumed post-second wave.
Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary of Ministry of Civil Aviation, said, "This has been a transformational scheme where people are able to travel from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities to metro and it has raised the aspiration and has tried to help people who have trade, commerce, tourism etc. The way forward for UDAN is to address this aspiration of a new India. So, we are trying to have at least a thousand routes by 2024 and have an additional hundred airports, which will be under this scheme."
"We will continue to develop similar airports in coming years and will endeavour to provide air connectivity to those districts which do not have it as of now," said Sanjeev Kumar, the chairman of AAI.
The airport has particularly emerged as a boon to people from different parts of the country who work in the industrial corridor of the region.
It has also cut short the journey of those natives who work in different cities of the country.
Pranay Gupta, a traveller at the airport, said, "Earlier, we would take flights either from Bhubaneswar or Raipur or would travel our entire journey by train. Now it takes just one and half hours by both train and bus to reach Jharsuguda and we can take a flight from here. The airport is connected with Delhi, Hyderabad and even Bengaluru. So it has become quite convenient for us."
The Jharsuguda airport, which was renamed after the Indian freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018.
The airport serves major steel industries including Jindal Steel, Bhusan Steel and Hindalco.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) is the implementing agency of UDAN, a regional airport development and Regional Connectivity Scheme of the Government of India, which has successfully added millions of footfalls to the Indian aero-spectrum in the past five years. (ANI)