Civil aviation has emerged a major driver of economic growth
Puducherry: Centre on Saturday said in order to increase connectivity to remote areas, 15 more airports under the Greenfield Airports Policy are now on the anvil.
Inaugurating a Rs 30 crore terminal at the Airport near here, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said air transport in India had witnessed unprecedented growth in the recent past and a major challenge today is how to provide improved connectivity to small cities and remote areas.
To overcome this challenge and to increase connectivity, 15 more airports under the Greenfield Airports Policy are now on the anvil. Majority of these airports are being developed under Public Private Partnership mode, he said.
It is a policy that dispenses with the need for mandatory approval for setting up new airports.
"Civil aviation has emerged as one of the major drivers of economic growth in the country. It is a catalyst not only for international voyage, trade and tourism but also for providing connectivity to different parts of the country."
Observing that the next new boom in aviation would occur due to low cost airports and improved regional connectivity, he said "we are in the process of identifying most suitable low cost model for development of smaller airports in smaller cities."
On the airport here, he said it had capacity to handle 150 passengers at a time with a runway of 1502 meters safe for operating ATR 72 type aircraft.
He said India today is one of the fastest growing economies "with enough resilience to sustain global downturn" and infrastructure should be provided quickly in all vital sectors including civil aviation.
Chief Minister N.Rangasamy said government was considering a proposal to bring down to one percent from 15 percent the VAT levied on aviation fuel here. With government's financial position being so critical, there was every need for the Centre to come to the rescue with sufficient funds,he said.
He appealed to Minister of State in PMO V.Narayanasamy, who was present, to use his good offices to procure the funds from the Centre.
Referring to Narayanasamy's plea that the new airport be named after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, he said government would take follow-up steps to name it after the late leader who had a "soft corner" for Puducherry.
Rangasamy requested Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to place at the disposal of his government land lying within the neighbouring state close to Puducherry airport for extension of the runway.
Air services to Bangalore are now available thrice a week and this would be expanded in course of time to distant pockets and metro centres`, he said.
Lt Governor Iqbal Singh said the airport here had the potential to be upgraded as an international airport. The presence of French consulate in Puducherry was an advantageous factor towards upgradation of the airport.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation K C Venugopal, the Puducherry Tourism Minister P.Rajavelu and Deputy Speaker T P R Selvam were among those who spoke.
Member (Planning) in the Airports Authority of India S.Raheja and Regional Executive Director of AAI (Southern Region) D.Devaraj also presented the highlights of the Puducherry airport and facilities.