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Maharashtra inks pact for regional air connectivity scheme

Maharashtra government today inked a pact with the Civil Aviation Ministry and AAI for regional connectivity scheme, becoming the first state to formally agree to be part of the Centres ambitious plan.

Under the RCS, around eight airports are expected to be connected in the state.

With the signing of the tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), “Maharashtra has formally agreed to provide the concessions required from the state governments in the RCS, thereby becoming the first state in the country to do so,” Civil Aviation Ministry said in a release today.

The MoU was signed in presence of Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis here.

Earlier in the day, Raju said as part of the RCS, the Centre and the state would develop Airports Authority of India (AAI)-owned existing air strips in Solapur, Kolhapur, Jalgaon, Gondia, Akhola and Juhu. Besides, state government-owned ones in Nanded and Shirdi would be developed, he added.

When asked about the deadline for operationalising them, Raju said, “I dont set deadlines nor do I work under deadlines. But let’s assume at the earliest.”

“When we announced the RCS, we were speaking about a wish-list. This agreement is the first step to convert that wish-list into a work-list and then a reality,” he said.

Under the RCS, the Centre would provide 80 per cent of the funds and remaining would be extended by the states concerned.

It stipulates that air tickets under a one-hour flight would be capped at Rs 2,500 while Viability Gap Funding (VGF) would take care of the rest of the operational cost.

Raju said the ministry hopes to meet its funding need from the Rs 500-crore estimated to be mopped up from the aircraft levy that would be passed on to other flyers.

States will have to take some haircuts in the form of free land, security, fire services, water etc, while the Centre will have to forego excise duty on ATF and service tax on tickets,” Raju said, adding that VGF and handholding cannot be for eternity but for the first three years.

Meanwhile, Raju and Fadnavis discussed various aviation related issues in Maharashtra.

“The subject of rehabilitation of slums (that have come up right next to the Mumbai International Airport) was deliberated upon in detail.

“Early operationlisation of several available airports and airstrips in the State (like Shirdi, Kolhapur, Nasik, Sholapur etc) also figured prominently in the discussions,” the release said.

Raju also undertook an aerial survey of the proposed airport site for Navi Mumbai

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