Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has suggested Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ajit Singh to provide adequate infrastructural support to the aviation sector in the state for ensuring unhindered industrialisation and flow of tourist traffic to Odisha. The Chief Minister impressed upon the Union Civil Aviation Minister that there was an urgent need to take up the development of airstrips at Gopalpur and Jeypore in Southern Odisha and asked the Union Minister to take up feasibility studies to develop these into airports. The chief ministe said the state does not have adequate air connectivity. It has only one operational domestic airport in Bhubaneswar which is also deprived of international operations. Official sources said the Union Civil Aviation Minister suggested that Odisha should also explore the possibility of developing new airports in PPP mode and assured that Airports Authority of India will conduct necessary feasibility studies for the development of Jeypore and Gopalpur airstrips.
The Chief Minister urged the Union Minister to declare Biju Patnaik Domestic Airport as an international airport without delay and fulfill the pending legitimate demand of air connectivity of the state. Mr Patnaik requested the Minister for starting international operations from Bhubaneswar to Middle East and South East Asian countries by Air India and other domestic airlines. He also suggested that Ministry of Civil Aviation should initiate the process of promoting Odisha as a world-class tourist destination and provide necessary support for holding a major conference in Bhubaneswar in the early part of 2013.
He apprised the Union Minister that the state has witnessed huge investments in various sectors and the total investment of the state stood at Rs.3.21 lakh crore during the calendar year 2011, also considered the highest in the country. Similarly, there has been also a significant increase in the inflow of domestic and international tourist traffic to Odisha, Mr Patnaik said and stressed the urgent need for improved air connectivity. The chief minister said the state has approved an allotment of 191 acres of land for development of Jharsuguda airport and requested the Union Minister to take urgent steps for developing Jharsuguda Airport, including expansion of its airstrip and other necessary infrastructure.