Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Monday launched flight services from the Maa Danteshwari Airport in Jagdalpur, which falls under the left-wing extremism affected Bastar division.
The airport, developed over an area of 57.6 hectares under the Centre’s UDAN scheme, in the second commercial aerodrome in the state. It will have limited flights operated by Alliance Air to Raipur and Hyderabad, reducing the travel time from 7 hours and 12 hours to 45 minutes and 75 minutes, respectively.
Named after the Goddess Danteshwari temple in Dantewada, Bastar, the airport is expected to increase connectivity to the tribal-dominated area while giving a boost to tourism, state government officials said.
The airport was inaugurated by Baghel via video conferencing, who called it a milestone in the development of Bastar. In a special programme organised by the Bastar police and the district administration, ten residents of interior villages were chosen to fly from Raipur to Jagdalpur as part of the inaugural flight.
The first flight got a water-cannon salute at the Jagdalpur airport and was waved off by the collector, the Inspector General, the divisional commissioner among other dignitaries.
In a recorded video message, Union Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said, “Earlier (in 2018), we tried to provide air connectivity through small flights from Jagdalpur to Raipur and Bhubaneswar but it was not successful (and was discontinued in November that year). With the joint efforts of the Aviation Ministry and the state government, Jagdalpur airport has now been upgraded for ATR flights.”
Two other airports in Chhattisgarh — at Ambikapur and Bilaspur — are also waiting to be inaugurated under the central government scheme. “The Centre had sanctioned Rs 48 crore for Jagdalpur airport, Rs 27 crore for Ambikapur and Rs 33 crore for Bilaspur. Of the total amount, Rs 102 crore has been spent,” Puri said.
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