In the final full Union Budget presented on Thursday by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Lok Sabha on Thursday for 2018-19, the focus has been given on the air connectivity and infrastructure development in the Northeastern region where three States are going to polls this month.
In order to revive a large number of airports and improve the aviation infrastructure in the region under the flagship regional connectivity scheme, the Finance Ministry has announced a budget allocation of Rs 1,014.09 crore for the financial year 2018-19 which is five times of the revised allocation of Rs 200.11 crore during 2017-18.
In his Budget speech, Jaitley said that in the last three years, the domestic air passenger traffic has grown at 18 per cent per annum and “our airline companies placed orders for more than 900 aircraft”.
He added, “Regional connectivity scheme of UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) initiated by the government last year shall connect 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads across the country. Operations have already started at 16 such airports.”
As per reports, under the second phase of the regional connectivity scheme around 40 per cent or 129 of the 325 air routes have been announced for the Northeastern and hill States.
The Finance Ministry has announced civilian air connectivity for the first time in airports at Pakyong of Sikkim, Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh and Kargil in Jammu & Kashmir.
Under the second phase of the government’s flagship scheme, besides fixed-winged aircraft, there will also be helicopter service in those routes.
As reimbursements of expenditure done for the development of Pakyong airport in Sikkim bordering China, Rs 73.31 crore has also been allocated to the Airports Authority of India as grants-in-aid by the Finance Ministry.