Vikash Sharma

Jharsuguda: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today dedicated Jharsuguda airport, the second commercial airport in Odisha, to the people of the nation during his one-day visit to the State.

Apart from inaugurating the Jharsuguda Airport, the maiden flight under UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme from Jharsuguda to Raipur was also flagged off today. With this, Jharsuguda airport becomes the 32nd UDAN airport in the country to be operational.

The Jharsuguda airport is also the first airport made operational in Western Odisha. The entire project has been developed at a cost of Rs 210 crore, sources said.

Official sources said the newly inaugurated Jharsuguda airport will provide connectivity between Bhubaneswar, Raipur and Ranchi and other parts of the country in subsequent phases.

The Jharsuguda airport has been renamed as Veer Surendra Sai airport and while speaking on the occasion PM Modi said that the airport is the second biggest airport in Odisha.

"Today, after so many years the second airport of Odisha has been made operational. The VSS airport is located at a prime location having connecting links with Bhubaneswar, Raipur and Ranchi. This airport will provide wings to development of the region," said Modi.

Modi further said that the government at the Centre is trying for development of the entire eastern region in the country and Odisha is in its focal point.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that the state government had earlier requested PM Modi to name Jharsuguda airport after freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai whose contribution is immeasurable.

"The State government has sanctioned 120 acre land for the airport free of cost and Rs 75 crore from the state fund," said Patnaik.

Patnaik further urged the government of India to make Jharsuguda airport into a full-fledged commercial airport.

"I request the government of India to consider the introduction of commercial flights in addition to the UDAN flights. To begin with, one of the Air India flights from Bhubaneswar may be routed through Jharsuguda airport," said Patnaik.

The Chief Minister also urged the PM Modi to revise the rate for coal royalty as Odisha being a coal bearing State has contributed immensely in the development of country's economy and development. But Odisha is facing adverse effect due to mining activities such as displacement of people, reduction of forest area, environment pollution and other issues.

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu said that there has been tremendous development in terms of air connectivity in the past 50 months in the country.

"In the last two years, 56 new airports, 36 helipads have been built and there is a target to set up new 100 airports at an investment of 65 billion dollars in the next 15 years," said Prabhu.