Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik has flagged one more airport, this time in Malkangiri district. Jeypore in 2022, Rourkela in 2023 and now, Malkingiri in 2024, the state government is keen to develop the aviation infrastructure.
Malkangiri Airport Inauguration
On January 9, the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Odisha, Mr Naveen Patnaik officially inaugurated the renovated Malkangiri Airport. A Beechcraft King Air B200GT carrying the Chief Minister marked the maiden landing at the airport. The aircraft was welcomed with a water salute. The aircraft was being piloted by a native of Malkangiri district named Anupriya Lakra. The 32-year-old lady pilot was hailed by the Chief Minister for her determination towards her passion.
With this new airport, Odisha State now has 5 airports – Bhubaneswar, Jharsuguda, Rourkela, Malkangiri, and Jeypore. Airports at Utkela and Rangeilunda are also under development. This airport is significant for the Malkangiri region as the airport has been historically affected by Maoistic resistance.
Malkangiri Airport has been constructed on a land parcel of 233 acres. The cost of construction was about Rs 70 crore. The airport has one of the longest runways in Odisha State. The runway is 1,620 meters long and 30 meters wide.
Two days ago, on January 7, a twin-engine VT-100 aircraft conducted a successful test flight at Malkangiri Airport. The airport is expected to be connected to Bhubaneswar and Visakhapatnam with scheduled flights. A 9-seater aircraft will be used for these flights. Later, big aircraft operations will start.
With the initiation of flights between Bhubaneswar and Malkangiri, travel time will be reduced to 2 hours. By road, it takes 14-16 hours to travel between both cities.
Before the airport, the main infrastructure project in the tribal-dominated Malkangiri area was the 2018 opening of the Gurupriya Bridge, which provided access to previously isolated areas. Initiated in 1980–81, the 910-meter bridge’s construction was delayed for years by Maoist resistance.
After the BSF was stationed at the construction site, the Odisha government moved quickly to advance the project. The Maoists suffered a great deal when the bridge was inaugurated because it made it easier for security forces to access previously restricted areas.
Given the Maoist presence, it will greatly facilitate the movement of forces to Malkangiri, where the BSF is well-represented. Additionally, the airport will serve as a major impetus for Mukhyamantri Vayu Swasthya Seva (Air Health Services), which aims to offer high-quality medical care to residents of even the most remote areas of the state.
Odisha & Aviation Infrastructure
CM Naveen Patnaik said that his dream of putting Malkangiri on the Aviation Map is finally successful. The addition of Malkangiri to the network map of India marks a new chapter in the transformational journey of Malkangiri and the state. This will aid the growing trade, tourism, and commercial activities in the state.
Minister Tukuni Sahu said that this was the need of the hour. Malkangiri District lacked proper transport systems. The inauguration of this airport will help locals to reduce travel times.
Odisha Government is on track to revolutionize the state aviation infrastructure. It has renovated three airports in the past three years and two more are undergoing renovation right now. The Government is bearing Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for three international routes operated by IndiGo. IndiGo connects Bhubaneswar to Dubai, Bangkok & Singapore under the International Air Connectivity Scheme (IACS).
Source: Indian Express