Odisha government has urged the Centre to allow flight operation under UDAN scheme from Amarda Road Airstrip in Mayurbhanj district.
Chief secretary S C Mohapatra in a letter to defence secretary Ajay Kumar urged him to look into the matter and issue necessary instruction to DRDO for the use of Amarda Road airstrip for flight operation under RCS-UDAN. He hoped that DRDO will issue the no objection certificate in this regard at the earliest.
The airstrip was used during World War II and is now under the Defence and Research Development Organisation (DRDO), which is under the defence ministry.
Mohapatra in his letter on Monday said Odisha government has requested the ministry of civil aviation to include the Mayurbhanj air strip under the RCS-UDAN scheme looking at the huge tourism potential of the area.
The ministry has included Bhubaneswar-Amarda Road as a special RCS route under UDAN 4.1. Gsec Monarch has been selected as the airline operator for the route with seven flights per week using 9-seater aircraft, the chief secretary said.
Mohapatra in his letter said that north Odisha is deprived of any kind of air connectivity and the existence of Amarda Road airstrip near Rasagobindapur in Mayurbhanj district has a great significance for nearby places.
It will facilitate connectivity for tourists to places like Similipal National Park, Kuldiha Sanctuary, Chandipur and Talasari sea beaches, he said.
Such air connectivity will facilitate economic growth through trade, create job opportunities, increase revenue from taxes and foster community relationship with neighboring states and communities, his letter said.
Odisha government had earlier requested DRDO for the NOC to use the airstrip for commercial flight operation under RCS-UDAN. The permission has not been received and the proposed flight operation from the Amarda Road has been left in a limbo, official sources said.
Earlier, Mayurbhanj MP and Union Minister Bishewar Tudu had Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia to convert the airstrip into a modern airport keeping in view its past glory.
He had said that once an airport comes up at the Amarda Road airstrip it will cater to an estimated 82 lakh people mostly in north Odisha, south Bengal and east Jharkhand.
Historian Anil Dhir said the Amarda Road airstip was a forward airfield against the Japanese during the conquest of Burma. It served as a landing ground for planes and also as a training space for special bombing missions. Built in the 1940s at a cost of Rs three crore, the airstrip was abandoned after Independence.