Chennai: The Civil Aviation Ministry has drawn up plans to boost air connectivity by taking the total number of airports operating in the country to over 200 over the next five-six years under its vision of increasing the ‘width and depth of air penetration,’ Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said here on Saturday.
Scindia, here on a brief visit, said in its 67 years of independence the country saw only 74 new airports being built while in the last 8.5 years, it has increased to 147 under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule.
“We are just one short of doubling that number. The 148th airport will be also completed this month itself which means that what India took 66-67 years to build and under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that has been done in a period of nine years,” he told reporters.
Scindia said the Ministry has envisaged taking the number of airports operating in the country to over 200 in the next five to six years.
“Another 50 additional airports, wardrobes, and heliports have been sanctioned in the budget (presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman). Under the UDAAN scheme, we were building 100 airports and now we will build 150 airports, waterdromes and heliports in the next couple of years to come,” he said.
Stressing that the air connectivity in the country cannot be focused only on expanding international routes, he said air connectivity should be expanded to tier-II and III cities.
“Under the Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme we introduced a small aircraft scheme last year which will be only sub-20 seater aircraft. These are all not ATRs, not Boeing or Airbus, and not big aircraft. These are sub-20 seater aircraft so that the penetration is down to the grassroots level,” he said.
Scindia said such aircraft were currently being operated in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and NorthEastern States and advanced landing grounds have been activated on the border of Arunachal Pradesh so that there is 100 percent penetration.
“The ‘mantra’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is that air penetration must encompass the length and breadth of the country,” he said.
To a query about the greenfield airport at Parandur near Chennai, he said the Ministry was in discussion with TIDCO (Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Ltd) and was examining the project proposal. It would issue the ‘site’ and ‘in-principle’ approval through the Airport Authority of India and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
“DGCA, AAI has to look into the proposal for a new airport to see if there are any obstacles on the flight path from a safety and security angle. Your question should be directed to the State government,” he said while responding to a query about the protest by villagers in Parandur opposing the project.
In August 2022, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin said a second airport for the city would come up at Parandur near Sriperumbudur at an estimated Rs 20,000 crore with an annual capacity of 10 crore passengers.