Pradeep Pattanayak

The 20-year-long wait of Rourkela Smart City to have an airport is going to be a thing of past soon. If everything goes as expected, flights will be a reality over the city from May or June 2022. 

With the Steel City set to host the biggest ever sporting extravaganza in Hockey, the Men's World Cup - 2023, the construction work of the city airport is on full swing. 

A high-quality runway along with a hangar, terminal, and taxiway are all being laid out for the much-awaited airport. The authorities have informed that a deadline of May/June 2021 has been set for the completion of the airport for full-fledged commencement of the flight operations. 

In the first phase, while 72-seater flights will take off from the Rourkela airport, further expansion will pave way for bigger flight operations. 

“The airport is not only for the Hockey World Cup but also for the benefit of the common man. I hope the engineering part of the work will soon complete. Once the terminal is laid out, the airport will be opened for the public,” informed Sundargarh District Collector Nikhil Pawan Kalyan.  

Sundargarh MP Jual Oram said he had discussed with Usha Padhee, the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, in this regard. She said the airport is being developed as a C3-category airport.  

“The public demand for C4-category airport will not be possible as of now. Once the airport is commissioned, it will be converted into C4-category in the next phase,” Oram added. 

The residents of the Smart City have long been demanding for an airport in the city which is home to some of the institutions of national repute like the NIT and BPUT. As people from all over the country work in the SAIL steel plant and the nearby mineral-rich region of Koida, most of them usually depend on either airports in Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, and the one at Jharsuguda for connectivity with their native lands. 

“The flight service from the airport should not be discontinued after the Hockey World Cup. For the service providers, it would be profitable to operate flights from here,” observed social worker Bimal Kumar Bisi.  

A city resident, Subrat Patnaik said 12 to 15 flights landed on the airstrip during the tour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the city. ‘Rourkela has everything to make the airport a viable one,” he added. 

The airport will benefit not only the people from outside but also the outstation students. “Rourkela has already been a hub for students. The facility will invite students from other states as well as countries to pursue their higher education here,” maintained a student, Priyadarshini Nayak.