To ensure better connectivity to investors in Madhya Pradesh, the state government has demanded its Rewa airstrip to be converted into a full airport. The state has also demanded the town airstrip to be considered under proposed regional connectivity scheme of the Centre.
Rewa town is in the proximity of Khajuraho — the world heritage site and prime tourist destination of India. Also, it has the country's only white tiger safari and cement plants. "We have demanded Rewa to have a no frill airport as planned by the Central government," Rajendra Shukla, state industry minister told Business Standard.
The NDA government had decided to take forward the previous UPA government's plan to develop no-frills airports at five places. No-frill airport means the existing brownfield airport or airport to be maintained and operated through private partnership. Later the central government came up with a plan to have 50 low-frill airports across India.
"Airlines operating on these airports will get certain exemptions. Rewa has as many as nine cement plants, a world heritage site like Khajuraho nearby and a white tiger safari. Though it has a new investment destination Singrauli in the vicinity but a full airport at Singrauli is also under consideration," the minister said.
If well-placed government sources are believed, the state is also planning to demand the Rewa airstrip to be put under the regional connectivity scheme through which an airline operating to the destination (Rewa) will have to charge a maximum fare of Rs 2500 for an hour-long flight.
"In the case of a gap, the state and the centre will fund through a viability gap funding in 80:20 ratio. Hopefully, the Rewa airstrip will be considered under regional connectivity scheme," a well-placed source told Business Standard, adding, "The Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) is in the Central aviation policy which has proposed to cap fares at Rs 2,500 against an hour of flight. The Centre would levy 2 percent on all domestic and international flights on metro routes to maintain the viability gap funding."
A service tax exemption is also there on the RCS routes. "State has already pared tax on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) from 27 per cent to 5 per cent to make the regional connectivity support," the source said. It further added, "Besides Rewa, a proposal for Umaria — near Bandhavgarh tiger reserve — airstrip and Birwa airstrip of Balaghat will also be forward to the Centre so that they may come under RCS."
Earlier, the minister said, Airport Authority of India had conducted a survey to see if the Rewa airport was feasible and found it to have an airport. A proposal for the Rewa airport has already been sent to the Central government while state cabinet will soon decide on a separate proposal for putting forward the three airports to be considered under RCS.
Singrauli has attracted investments from Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance group in form of 4000 Mw Sasan Ultra Mega power project and Aditya Birla Group promoted Hindalco's alumina smelter project. It has become a new destination for power generation companies.
In the back of these investments, Ashok Barnwal, principal state aviation secretary told Business Standard, "Earlier there was a plan for Singrauli to have a full airport but it was not materialised. The district administration is working on land acquisition for a full airport at Singrauli."