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Terminal at Srinagar airport to be expanded three times its present size at Rs 1,500 cr: Scindia

SRINAGAR: Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday said the present terminal at the Srinagar airport will be expanded three times from 20,000 square metres to 60,000 square metres at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore.

He said the decrease in VAT on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) from 26.5 percent to one percent by the J&K administration has set a new dawn for air connectivity in the Union Territory.

''A civil enclave will be built in Jammu at a cost of Rs 861 crore and the Srinagar's present terminal will be expanded three times to 60,000 square metres at a cost of Rs 1,500 crores,'' Scindia said after inaugurating the 4th Heli-India Summit 2022 with the theme 'Helicopters for last Mile Connectivity' at SKICC here.

J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha was present on the occasion.

Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bringing a ''revolution'' in the civil aviation sector in India from 2014 onwards, the Union minister said from 1947 to 2014, the country had only 74 airports, but now the number has increased to 141, with 67 added in last seven years.

The government is committed to increase the number to over 200 in the next few years, he added.

Scindia said the civil aviation has now become the need of the hour not only for India but for humankind across the world as it always brings with it two important multipliers, the economic multiplier and the employment multiplier.

The sector has a huge impact with economic multiplier of 3.1 and employment multiplier of 6, the minister said.

Therefore, the civil aviation across the world today forms a very important cog of the wheel of economic development, he added.

Scindia said helicopters have multifarious roles, providing urban connectivity, which is no more an elitist prerogative in India but is based on the prime minister's vision 'Sab Ude, Sab Jude'.

The other roles of helicopter service has been the emergency medical services and disaster management during floods, rescue operations etc, he said.

Scindia said the decrease in VAT on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) from 26.5 per cent to one per cent by the J&K administration has set a new dawn for air connectivity in the Union territory with 360 percent increase in refuelling, thus increasing the air connectivity to J&K.

The UT has set an example of the best use of helicopter service when it erected transmission lines and towers using heli-cranes (sky cranes) on the Peer Panjal mountain range, Scindia said.

The Union minister said the guidelines on fractional ownership model have been released to help grow the non-scheduled operations.

''While our scheduled operations are on the fast track and we have increased the fleet size from 400 aeroplanes in 2013 to more than 700 in 2021-22, through these guidelines, we should be able to spur growth in the non-scheduled fleet too.

''Fractional ownership will lower the barrier on the cost of acquisition of helicopters and aeroplanes through pooled capital by multiple owners. This will allow companies and individuals to minimise their capital outflow by sharing the purchase cost, reducing their exposure to risks and making it financially easier to run a NSOP business,'' he said.

Fractional ownership model has the potential to energise the NSOP segment by democratising ownership of aircraft and it can be a key driver to boost the number of aircraft existing in the NSOP industry, Scindia said.

The helicopter industry should be recognised for its social service. It is not a transportation vehicle but a transformation tool. It can be used not only for economic development but could also be used to transform lives, he added.

Scindia said the government has also decided to incubate a helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) pilot called 'Project Sanjeevani' by deploying a helicopter in the next few weeks to provide emergency medical services at AIIMS Rishikesh.

The helicopter will be based at the hospital at 20 minute notice and will have a service cover to an area of 150 km radius, he said.

It is the intention of the government to expand medical outreach and access to trauma care services to a wider population base across the country using the speed advantage and mobility of helicopters, he said.

We will use the learnings from Project Sanjeevani to explore the viability of the concept, its benefits and the attendant risks and later articulate a national policy on HEMS before committing larger resources, the minister said.

LG Sinha said the UT has seen a new dawn of development after the abrogation of Article 370, with increased road connectivity, air connectivity and development of railways infrastructure with work on Rs one lakh crore worth projects underway in J&K.

In terms of railway connectivity, J&K will be connected to Kanyakumari by the next year, he said.

Welcoming the stakeholders of the civil aviation sector and the helicopter industry from across the country to J&K. Sinha said the Heli India Summit will play a significant role in promoting 'Heli-seva' as last mile connectivity.

Work has been started for implementing 'Heli Policy' and use of helicopters in emergency medical services, he added.

Various scenic destinations in J&K witnessing year-round tourist influx have the potential to boost heli-tourism market in the UT. We are committed to facilitate and help in the growth of heli operations. I invite industry captains to be partners in this transformational journey, Sinha said.

He said Rs one lakh crore is being spent on road and tunnel infrastructure, which is opening up new vistas of socio-economic growth in J&K. he added.

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