Archive for January, 2014
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik gave his approval to such a proposal, the sources said, adding Odisha was the first state in the country to provide free of cost land for any railway project and offer to bear 50 percent of cost of the construction of the railway line.
The state government’s action in this regard came due to tardy progress of the 289 km Khurda-Bolangir railway line.
Though the project was sanctioned way back in 1994-95, only 52 km rail line construction work was expected to be completed by end of 2013-14 fiscal, they said.
“As the Khurda-Bolangir railway project is considered significant for the socio-economic development of the people of at least four districts (Bolangir, Boudh, Nayagarh and Sonepur), the state government was ready to contribute to the project,” the sources said.
Though Khurda-Bolangir project is considered as the biggest railway project in the state, only Rs 40 crore was allotted for the project in the last railway budget.
The first survey work for the line was conducted in 1945 by the then Bengal-Nagpur Railway (BNR) as it was felt that there should be railway link for the tribal dominated districts of Bolangir, Kalahandi, Koraput and Phulbani.
However, after Independence the project remained in cold storage till the Planning Commission approved it in 1993 and it received the presidential nod in 1994. Its cost was then estimated at Rs 383 crore. The project was expected to be completed within five years but funds crunch became a hindrance.
A number of delegations had met subsequent Railway Ministers, without any progress. Therefore, the state government decided to take half of the responsibility for completion of the project.
With the Biju Patnaik airport in the city getting the international tag, global carriers like Air Arabia and SilkAir have evinced interest to start commercial operations.
Air Arabia, a low cost airline based in Sharjah (UAE) is keen to run flights between Bhubaneswar and the UAE. Air Arabia is the only publicly listed airline in the UAE, serving 15 destinations in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Egypt. It also operates 154 weekly flights within the Gulf.
SilkAir, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, has proposed to run flights connecting Bhubaneswar with Singapore via Kolkata and Vishakapatnam. The operator runs scheduled passenger services from Singapore to 43 cities in Southeast Asia, South Asia, China and Australia. As the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, SilkAir serves the short haul destinations in the Singapore Airlines Group network.
“Earlier flydubai had presented a schedule to the Government of India and the Odisha government to start flights connecting Bhubaneswar with Dubai. Now, Air Arabia and SilkAir have also evinced interest. The route permit for these flight operations has to be given by the Ministry of Civil aviation,” said an official source.
On the domestic route, Spice Jet and Go Air are ready to run flights from the city international airport from April 1 after the state government slashed VAT (value added tax) on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to five per cent from 20 per cent. Gurgaon-based low cost carrier Indigo has also offered to run 3-4 additional flights.
On October 30 last year, the Ministry of Civil aviation declared the Biju Patnaik airport in the city an international airport.
Apart from getting the tag of an international airport, the Biju Patnaik airport is also equipped with a new domestic terminal. The terminal is capable of handling 400 arriving and 400 departing passengers. The terminal building is spread over an area of 18,240 sq metre, has in-line compatible baggage handling system, escalators, elevators, flight information display system (FIDS) and CCTV for surveillance with the interiors depicting the state culture.
Meanwhile, the state government has committed to provide additional Rs 25 crore towards development of the Jharsuguda airport. Earlier, the state government had committed Rs 50 crore for the airport.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) had worked out the tentative cost of developing the Jharsuguda airport at Rs 150 crore. AAI had urged the state government to contribute 50 per cent of the cost after it felt that the Jharsuguda airport may not be commercially viable.
BHUBANESWAR: The state government will revive eight defunct panthikas through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode.
These include the panthasalas of Kapilas, Deulajhari, Bargarh and Charchika, Wayside Amenities Centre (WAC) of Jajpur Road, tourist complex of Sonepur and food court at Puri. “The bidders have been finalized,” said tourism minister Maheswar Mohanty.
The government has already brought 11 out of the 31 defunct panthasalas or panthikas under PPP mode, said a government officer in the tourism department.
Besides, he said the government’s amenities centre at Lulung near Baripada is defunct since 2009 due to Maoist problem. Though bidder was selected for operation on PPP mode in 2012, they declined to take over. He said the department is taking steps to make it functional. Similarly, the panthika at Bargarh is non-functional due to staff shortage. The government is taking steps for its renovation, he said.
The officer said the government would invite fresh bid for the panthasala at Sunabeda. “Earlier, the bidder selected for this panthasala declined to take over the property. We have invited fresh bid for this purpose,” he said.