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Sharmili Mallick

Jharsuguda: Flight operations from the Veer Surendra Sai (VSS) Airport at Jharsuguda have become a major cause of concern for the people in the region due to absence of regular flights.

Empty terminals and ticket counters with no officials, employees and flyers at the Jharsuguda airport, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 22, have dampened dreams of the people in the region to fly.

Meanwhile, local MLA Naba Das, in a letter to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, today sought the CM’s intervention into the matter.

While requesting CM Naveen to ensure regular flight operations, Das demanded commercial flight services at the airport. He also threatened to resort to peaceful demonstration along with his supporters, if their demands are not met.

“The Jharsuguda airport is a joint initiative of both the Central and the State government. However, questions are being raised on its construction by spending crores of rupees and once considered as a boon for the people of western Odisha, it has now turned into a curse,” rued a local, Tapaswilal Tiwary.

Another resident of Jharusguda, Sushant Sahoo said, “We were excited to take flights from the airport constructed under Udey Desh ka Aam Nagarik (UDAN)scheme but there are no flights operating now. Though, the concerned authorities are allowing people inside the airport for sightseeing but there are no flights to at least watch.”

Even if the information display board at the airport shows flights to Bhubaneswar, Ranchi and Raipur thrice a week, in reality a flight is yet to take off from the airport post inauguration, sources said.

“We cannot say that the flight operations have failed. A flight took off from the airport on September 22 but it is yet to be regularised due to some issues with the operators,” informed Director of VSS Airport, SK Choudhury.

There is only one flight running from the airport. After 70 hours of flying, it has to be sent to Kolkata for maintenance. But the base of the airplane’s operator is in Bhubaneswar which is the main reason behind the delay. Besides, there are also some other technical issues with the flight due to which the airlines have stopped operation, Choudhury added.

Earlier on October 23, Congress MLA Naba Das along with his supporters sat on dharna in front of the Airport demanding regular flight operations and launch of commercial flight services at the airport.

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