Shimla, April 27
Prime Minster Narendra Modi on Thursday launched the much awaited UDAN scheme, the low cost air connectivity for the common man, from the Jubbarhatti airport in Shimla. “I had always wanted the man in streets wearing hawai chappals to do the hawai yatra”, he said in his short address on the airport.
“I had raised the issue of replacing the Maharaja logo of Air India with that of the common man image of cartoonist Laxman during the previous Atal Bihari Vajpayee government also”, he said.
Modi said the air travel under the UDAN scheme would cost less than even the per km taxi fare now. There would be five airlines flying on 128 new routes, including Delhi-Shimla, Kadapa-Hyderabad and Nanded-Hyderabad. Soon there would be Nanded-Mumbai flights.
The Prime Minister disclosed that 30 new airports for commercial use in the Tier II and Tier III cities would come up in one year’s time. There were just 70-75 airports made so far in last so many years for business viability. Lots of runways in the eastern sector in the country have remained unused, he said.
Giving a tip to the private airline companies, he said they should start immediately a “Sikh pilgrimage circuit” connecting famous gurdwara towns to Amritsar. “It would sell and I won’t charge the idea fee” he emphasised jokingly.
Modi, while emphasizing on connectivity, be it the air or the Internet, said it was the most urgent need for the development of tourism or any other business. The re-launching of air service from the Shimla airport that was lying unused for the past many years would double the hill State’s tourism potential in the coming days.
The other beautiful tourist destinations of the Northeast also lacked good connectivity. This was also required for the cultural integration of the region with other parts of the country.
The Prime Minister also inaugurated the State’s first Hydro Engineering College in Bilaspur from the Shimla airport. He said Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir have a great hydel potential in the country and could cater to a huge demand of power. With the new air power and hydro power, wonders could be created and new growth centers made in these States, he said.
Shimla, April 27