Thursday, August 03, 2017

UDAAN scheme crashes in Agra as operators avoid flying to the city

New Delhi: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Agra in his pre-election rally on November 13, 2013, his focus was on two core issues of Agra -- air connectivity and water supply.
Almost four years have passed since that speech, but Agra is yet to see even a brick laid in the name of the international airport. Funds for the new domestic terminal are not being released by the state government, despite repeated assurances that they will be released soon.
Adding icing to the cake, the much-touted 'UDAAN' scheme started by the central aviation ministry is yet to make a landing in Agra.
The Agra International Airport Action Committee, under President Rajiv Tiwari, has been running a signature campaign demanding that the central government should announce the construction of an international airport in Agra before a new international airport is constructed in Jewar.
Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber Secretary Vishal Sharma said that all the promises that PM Modi made in his speech have proved to be worthless as nothing that he promised to Agra has materialised in  over the past three years of his tenure.
Sharma said that the UDAAN project was to connect Agra to Jaipur and Delhi through the Golden Triangle sector. Also, the Agra-Jaipur flights were supposed to begin on June 17, and Agra-Delhi flights on August 3, 2017.
He said that this regional connectivity scheme was to link 18 cities with low-cost flights, out of which 14 routes have already been started, but just like the International Airport, the UDAAN scheme appears to be just another empty promise for Agra.
Funnily, he said, the state government has announced in advance that the new terminal to come up Agra in the future will be called Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyay Airport, but neither the Agra MPs, nor the MLAs have any clue exactly when the funds for the land acquisition for the airport will arrive, leaving the locals to keep guessing the date.
Sources claimed that the Agra-Delhi operations have been given to Air Deccan which will run this sector with an ATR-72 aircraft, but the company has not operated commercial flights since 2011. No bookings for the flight have been made on the company website either.
03/08/17 Siraj Qureshi/India Today