Ahead of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, the ruling BJP has come up with an airport project in the Vindhya region of the state.
The foundation stone of the airport was laid Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia in Rewa district on Wednesday.
Though no specific deadline for project completion has been given, the officials associated with the project told IANS that the airport, for operating 19-seater aircraft, will be ready by 2025.
Chorhta, the place where the proposed airport to be established, has an existing airfield, and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) will strengthen the existing runway along with the grading of the runway strip area. Also, the AAI will construct the terminal building with a peak hour capacity of 50 passengers, which will cost around Rs 300 crore.
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Spread over 61.95-acre land, Rewa's existing airfield, at present, has a runway of 1400 metres with a small building of 150 sq metres and was owned by the state government. However, in December 2022, the state government handed it over to the AAI for the revival and construction of facilities.
The state government will provide additional land of 290 acres for making the proposed airport suitable for ATR-72 operations in future. "Out of 290 acres of land, 137 acres are required for VFR operations and 153 acres are required for IFR operations. The state cabinet has already approved the proposal to acquire 246 acres of private land and approved the compensation of Rs 206 crore towards payment to the landowners," said Ramji Awasthi, a senior official of the AAI, who is currently serving as Director of Bhopal's Raja Bhoj Airport.
The state government is expected to soon approve the acquisition of the remaining land, he added.
The much-needed development, undoubtedly, will provide air services not only to the citizens of Rewa but also to over a dozen of districts of the Vindhya region such as Sidhi, Satna, Shadole, Umaria, Singrouli, Anupur and others. At present, people of these districts travel between 250-300 km to nearby airports - either to Jabalpur or Prayagraj (Allahabad) for emergency purposes.
Besides the development vision, the ruling BJP also has a political vision behind the establishment of the first airport in the region.
In 2018 Assembly elections, the BJP had won 24 out of total 30 seats in the region. However, since then, the saffron party has been witnessing one after another defeat in this particular region. For instance, the ruling party lost bypoll in Raigaon (Satna) in November 2021, and then lost mayoral posts in Singrauli and Rewa.
Notably, the Congress had won Rewa mayoral seat after 30 years, and was striving hard to revive in the Vindhya region, which used to be its stronghold during the eras of Arjun Singh and Sriniwas Tiwari.
Perhaps, the multiple poll defeats have made Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan shift his focus to the region, and therefore he came up with a major gift for the region ahead of assembly polls due by the end of 2023.
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