Maha first state to sign RCS plan, to develop 10 small airports
Maharashtra today became the first state to sign an agreement with the civil aviation ministry to develop 10 almost non-functional regional airports/airstrips helping move closer to reality the Centre's ambitious regional connectivity plan.
The fully subsidised regional connectivity scheme (RCS) seeks to cap ticket prices so as to make flying more affordable and accessible to the common man and is part of the ambitious National Civil Aviation Policy 2016 cleared by the Cabinet on June 15.
The agreement was inked in the presence of Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and top Airport Authority officials.
The 10 airports to be developed under the plan are Kolhapur, Shirdi, Amravati, Gondia, Nashik, Jalgaon, Nanded, Solapur, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, wherein the state will contribute 20 per cent cost of viability gap funding, and the rest will be borne by the Centre.
Out of these airstrips at Shirdi and Nanded are state government-owned and Fadnavis said the Nanded airport will be functional from November.
As per the agreement, the state will reduce the local tax on aviation fuel from existing 10 per cent to 1 per cent for 10 years, apart from providing essential land free of cost, Fadnavis said.
These airports will be provided with roads, rail, metro and waterway connectivity, he added. The state will also provide electricity, water and necessary facilities at concessional rates.
On the proposed new Pune airport at Rajgurunagar near New Chakan, Fadnavis said the Airport Authority will send a team to conduct preliminary study in first week of September.
On the issue of building heights in Bandra Kurla Complex and Wadala notified areas, he said the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) survey will be completed soon and final report is expected by December.
Earlier addressing the media, Raju had said almost all other states are ready to sign the RCS.
"When we announced the RCS, we were speaking about a wish list. This agreement is the first step to convert that wish-list into a work-list and then a reality," Raju said.
Exuding confidence that the plan will take wings sooner, he said, "a magazine has referred to me as a flightless bird.
But I don't want to be flightless bird forever."