New Delhi, Mar 7 : The Cabinet on Thursday decided that the Government would invest Rs 4,500 crore for developing un-served and under-served airstrips of state governments, Airports Authority of India (AAI), civil enclaves, CPSUs, helipads and water aerodromes under its Regional Connectivity Scheme(RCS).
This decision would help in boosting regional air connectivity infrastructure across the country, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told mediapersons here after the Cabinet meet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here.
He said the Ministry had received overwhelming response from the airlines in two rounds of RCS bidding held so far. In the first round of UDAN bidding, 128 routes were assigned to five airline operators for 43 un-served/underserved airports on March 31, 2017.
The response from airline operators have considerably improved in second round where 86 proposals involving 325 routes were awarded to 15 selected airline operators in January 2018.
During RCS-UDAN version 1.0 and 2.0, 66 airports were identified and 31 heliports (28 unserved heliports and 3 unserved airports). During UDAN version 3.0, to increase the tourism potential at the coastal areas, tourism routes in coordination with Ministry of Tourism and Seaplanes for connecting water aerodromes were included.
The Finance Minister in his Budget speech 2016-17 announced making adequate provisions for revival of unserved and underserved airports. The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for revival of 50 un-served/under-served airports of the state governments, AAI, civil enclaves and Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs).
The revival of airstrips/airports will be 'demand driven', depending upon firm commitment from airline operators as well as from the state governments for providing various concessions as airports will be developed without insisting on its financial viability.
India has a vast coastline of approximately 7,500 km and is dotted with numerous water bodies which can be exploited for establishment of Water Aerodrome. A network of Water Aerodromes along with land based airports will improve air connectivity and be particularly useful for localised short-distance travelling. Therefore, it was decided to develop Water Aerodromes in the country with aviation expertise of AAI and cooperation of state government.