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Odisha, AAI sign agreement to develop Jharsuguda airport

Business Standard:  July, 2014

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for developing an airport at Jharsuguda in western Odisha at a cost of Rs 210 crore.

Currently, AAI operates an airstrip at Jharsuguda, used by a few chartered aircraft. Odisha has just one full-fledged airport — the Biju Patnaik International Airport.

Of the overall estimated project cost, the state government will provide Rs 75 crore. AAI has 909.22 acres in Jharsuguda.

To upgrade the airstrip to a full-fledged airport, the state government has agreed to provide 296.5 acres free; 118.75 acres will be handed over immediately. “We can construct the airport within a period of two years from the date of physical possession of land,” said AAI Chairman Alok Sinha.

The length of the runway at the Jharsuguda airstrip will be increased from 6,500 ft to 7,800 ft, making it possible for A-320 Airbus planes to land and take-off. Apart from extension of the runaway, the upgrade will include the construction of a terminal building, an isolation bay, a new technical block, a control tower and a fire station and the installation of improved navigational and visual aids and ground-lighting facilities.

While signing the MoU, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, “Jharsuguda has a marked concentration of industries and urban population because of its proximity to valuable natural resources. The Jharsuguda airport will acquire a key position in the aviation map of the country, paving the way to faster development of the state and the nation as a whole.”

A full-fledged airport at Jharsuguda is also expected to boost industrial units in the region. It is expected the airport’s business will primarily be driven by corporate travellers. Two Vedanta Group firms — Sterlite Energy (an independent power plant with a 2,400-Mw coal-fired plant) and Sesa Sterlite (a 1.75-million-tonne aluminium smelter) —are located in Jharsuguda. Besides, there are a number of sponge iron units in the Jharsuguda-Rourkela belt. The Ib valley region in Jharsuguda district is known for its coal deposits, as well as the operating mines of Mahanadi Coalfields.