Work on airstrip upgrade at Mahamaya airport in Ambikapur has been completed, at ~48 crore, and commercial flights can start.
The airstrip was upgraded from category 2C to 3C to enable the operations of 70-72-seater aircraft under the UDAN scheme.
Ambikapur, the divisional headquarters of Sarguja, has rich coal reserves, and the airport will be the fourth public-serving one in Chhattisgarh -- after Raipur, Jagdalpur, and Bilaspur.
The first test flight landed on May 4 when a team of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was inspecting the place.
“After approval from the DGCA, the state government will send a proposal to the Ministry of Civil Aviation to start flights to Delhi, Varanasi, and Raipur,” Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said after inspecting the airstrip.
Ambikapur airport is one of the oldest in the country. It was built in 1950 after independence. Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister landed in the airstrip in 1974.
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“The tourism of Sarguja will grow rapidly with better air connectivity,” Baghel said.
The length of the airstrip has increased to 1,800 metres, which is sufficient for commercial flights. The area is spread over 374 acres and the state government has asked the aviation authorities to make action plans to accommodate larger aircraft, Baghel said.
The chief minister said the state government had been campaigning for a long time at state and national levels for the upgrade.
“We took up the issue with the aviation ministry from time to time and finally got the desired results,” he added.
Located in the northern pocket of Chhattisgarh, Sarguja has commercial importance. The Hasdeo-Arand coalfield is located in the region. Besides, the region has rich tourism potential. The hill station of Mainpat is known as the Shimla of Chhattisgarh. But it failed to find a place in national and international tourism maps because of poor connectivity.