NEW DELHI, March 15 – Terming inter-regional mobility a major problem in the North East, Union Minister Jitendra Singh has sought philanthropists’ help for ensuring greater air connectivity there by way of placing a couple of aircrafts for easier communication.
“North East has problem of air connectivity. If some philanthropist can offer us two aircrafts, we can station them permanently in Guwahati. That will solve much of our problem. We can actually look for it,” Singh, Minister of State for Development of NE Region, said at a business summit on the Northeastern region organised here by Indian Chamber of Commerce yesterday.
The summit, ‘Development Through Partnership with Asean and BIMSTEC Countries’, was attended by a host of foreign dignitaries, including Bhutanese Health Minister Lyyonpo Tandin Wangchuk, Bangladesh Industries Minister Alhaz Amir Hossain Amu and U Thar Aye, Chief Minister of Sagaing Region of Myanmar.
Singh said that while Delhi had a direct air link to Guwahati and Shillong, connectivity within the North East itself was a huge problem.
He said that national carrier Air India’s regional service, Alliance Air, has already placed one aircraft for dedicated operations in the NE and added that it will be requested “to deploy one more aircraft on these routes”.
The Minister also said that the issue of air connectivity would be taken up at the next Inter-Ministerial meeting with the Civil Aviation Ministry.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, addressing the Summit, said that States also need to be aviation- friendly if they wanted the Centre to be so.
“I have been persuading the Chief Ministers to bring down the tax on aviation turbine fuel, which accounts for 46-50 per cent of an airline’s total operations costs. I am hopeful they will do it. We do need to become aviation friendly, probably if the States in the North East also become aviation friendly,” Raju said.
“Aviation-wise, we will be on a wise wicket if there is productive infrastructure and not an idle infrastructure in place,” he added. – PTI