NEW DELHI, Oct 27 - The Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) has mooted commercial helicopter service within the North East in a bid to boost intra-regional connectivity.
Union Ministry for DoNER, Dr Jitendra Singh on Wednesday held a meeting of senior officers and acknowledged that the biggest hurdle in attracting investments, tourism and entrepreneurship in the North East is the lack of adequate connectivity. Secretary DoNER, Ameising Luikham, and other senior officers of the Ministry attended the meeting.
Even though the rail network expansion has started on a fast track in the last one year or so, most parts still remain unconnected.
Similarly, road connectivity also gets adversely affected due to weather conditions, he added. In such a situation, improvement in air connectivity is the only immediate viable option, the Minister said.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that the DoNER Ministry is taking up with the Civil Aviation Ministry the prospect of developing Guwahati airport as a regional hub for the entire North East. The helicopters can be grounded there overnight and can be put to use for commercial sorties for civilian passengers at frequent intervals to different destinations in all the eight States of the North East. He said that this will give the civilians the freedom to plan their movement as per their requirement and priority, and not be constrained by the availability of a routine aircraft flight.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that discussion should be held with different helicopter companies like Pawan Hans and issues related to equity could be worked out to the mutual advantage of all. Guwahati Airport is connected by regular flights to a number of destinations including Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur and Bangalore, and therefore, when regular commercial helicopter service is initiated, passengers from any part of the country or abroad, who land at Guwahati airport by a civil aircraft will have the option to take a connecting helicopter flight to a further destination in the region.