Revival of air taxi mooted

By Our Reporter

 Shillong: In view of the poor road connectivity in the Northeastern region, a top consultative body of the Centre has called for revival of air taxi for shorter intra-regional routes in the region.

“Development of smaller airports and use of smaller aircraft appear to be the solution in the region,” P P Srivastava, a member of North Eastern Council, told reporters on Tuesday, after the consultative meet of the working group of the National Advisory Council for development of NER.

Srivastava said working group has also dwelt on the need for advanced weather technology at all airports and helipads.

Reacting to a query about the status of the Shillong airport, he stated that the additional land acquisition for the expansion of the runway is in the pipeline.

The working group besides Civil Aviation also identified four sectors include Health, Telecom, Higher Education and access to financial services.

Srivastava also said that the poor connectivity is a major problem in the region and recently national Fibre Optic Network (NFON) has been created to give fibre optic connectivity right upto every Panchayat in the country in the next 18 to 24 months.

As per Srivastava, NAC has also asked Union Telecom Department to prepare a separate plan for the North East to improve connectivity.

The NEC official said he had travelled using these air taxis to get from place to places in the region in the 60s. Suggesting that there should be two kinds of flight services in the region, Srivastava said the bigger aircraft should connect with the main air space and the smaller aircraft with hopping services will connect the states with respective time schedule.

“We suggest a two-phase solution for air connectivity to the region. The airlines operating in the region should also extend relief in fares as a percentage of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) to facilitate service to the region with smaller aircraft and make Guwahati the hub,” Srivastava said.

He said the hanger for parking of bigger aircraft and the maintenance and service section at the Airport in Guwahati (Assam) at its final stage with land acquisition almost complete.

Further, the member has also pressed for a need to set up advanced weather forecasting technology at all airports and helipads in the region. The North Eastern Council has also proposed to set up a regional training school for aircraft operators, staffs and crew. In matter related to Health, the working group discussed on the issue of shortage of doctors in the region besides the group has also asked the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to prepare a draft perspective plan for the region during the 12th Plan period.

It may be mentioned that the Union Cabinet has recently approved a project “Development of North Eastern Region by enhancing training and education capacity in the Information, Electronics and Communication Technologies (IECT).

He also stated that working group has urged the Union Ministry of Finance department of financial services to prepare a separate financial inclusion for the region.

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