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Twenty-five operational airports in the country have almost reached or nearing their optimum utilisation, and steps have been taken to bring their capacity as per the traffic demand, the government said today. Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha, in a written reply also informed the Lok Sabha said that the existing infrastructure capacity at Indian airports is sufficient to meet the traffic demand. There are 77 operational airports in the country. He also informed the House that based on traffic growth at the existing airports, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has prepared a plan for investment of Rs 17,500 crore for capacity enhancement by upgrade of infrastructure at operational airports, revival of non-operational airports, strengthening of Air Navigation Services (ANS) infrastructure, installation of solar power plants, among others. The government has granted "in principle" approval for setting up of the 18 greenfield airports besides granting "site clearance" approval for setting up of five greenfield airports, Sinha said. The airport projects at Andal in West Bengal's Durgapur and at Kannur in Kerala have been completed, the Minister said adding that the operations at Durgapur airport have commenced on May 18, 2015 while the trial landing at Kannur airport has also been completed. Sinha, in reply to another question, said the primary objective of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)-UDAN is to facilitate/stimulate regional air connectivity by making it affordable. The government has approved the proposal for revival of 50 un-served/under-served airports/airstrips of the state governments, AAI and civil enclaves at an estimated cost of Rs 4,500 crore, in three financial years starting from 2017-18, the Minister said. However, the revival of airstrips/airports is "demand driven", depending upon firm commitment from airline operators as well as from the state governments for providing various concessions. The Minister also said that AAI, which is the implementing agency for RCS has received 43 initial proposals from 11 bidders, covering 92 airports. Of these 30 airports currently are served airports, 12 are under-served and 50 un-served airports. Sinha said that the RCS is aimed at connecting remote areas to major cities whereas the rapid transport system aims to connect major cities.
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