Respect own notification: Odisha gov to Union on airport issue

Bhubaneswar: Surprised over exclusion of Bhubaneswar from the list of proposed international airports in the country, Odisha government today asked the Centre to respect its own notification.

“The state government is at a loss to understand why the Union government is not able to abide by its own decision of operationalising the International Airport at Bhubaneswar published in the International Airport Notification in Extraordinary Gazette of India on 14, November, 2013,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote in a letter to the Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju.

He said facilities for immigration clearance, health and quarantine were already available at the airport in Bhubaneswar.

“Serious audit objections will also arise for spending public resources on a plan that the Union government conceived, pushed and eventually repudiated. At this juncture, leaving Bhubaneswar out of the list of international Airport in the Draft Aviation Poll, is surprising to say the least,” he said.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the state government have already spent public money on the construction of an international airport at Bhubaneswar. The people in Odisha were dismayed at the exclusion of Bhubaneswar from the list of proposed international airports in the country, he said.

“The six metros, which are proposed to act as hubs, will witness expansion of economic activity. These metros are already suffering from high levels of pollution and traffic congestion. Confining the idea of hubs to only six airports will be retrogressive and uneconomical as aircraft have to wait in queues in the sky to be given space in busy airports for landing,” the Chief Minister said. .

This apart, Patnaik said, excess fuel is burnt, air gets polluted and precious time lost for everyone in the process.

The airlines also spend more in operating from busy airports due to high congestion and the travellers bear avoidable inconvenience of baggage transfer and change of flights.

“Therefore, there is a need to immediately shift focus to other cities like Bhubaneswar that have surplus capacities which can be leveraged without additional social, economic and ecological costs,” he said.

Claiming that Odisha being a manufacturing, commercial and tourist centre is in need of urgent upgradation of the civil aviation infrastructure, Patnaik said private airlines were willing to operate international flights from Bhubaneswar considering its potential.

“Bhubaneswar offers congenial facilities at the airport, quick transport, comfortable accommodation and clean ambience in the city. Developing the city as an important airlines hub would create significant business opportunities for everyone and give a new thrust to national development,” he said.

“International carriers need to be given greater role in our skies on all routes like several other large countries, to make our aviation industry more efficient and competitive and prevent arbitrary pricing by monopolies,” Patnaik argued in the letter which was released to the media.

Patnaik urged the Union Civil Aviation Minister Gajapathi Raju to include Bhubaneswar in the proposed policy as an International Airport in the national interest.