Overseas Odias living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who have spearheaded an International movement to ensure regular air connectivity to the newly opened Veer Surendra Sai Airport in Jharsuguda have stepped up their efforts in this direction. Today senior Non Resident Odias (NRO) met Odisha Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik at Bhubaneswar and presented a memorandum in this regard.
The establishment of an airport in western Odisha was a long pending demand of the people and it’s opening in Jharsuguda was cheered by the entire region. The NROs, living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had celebrated the opening of the airport in front of Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the World). It was a proud moment for all the people from Odisha (particularly from the western region) to be connected by air to different parts of the country. In fact, senior NROs had met the Consul General, Consulate General of India, Dubai, Shri Vipul on the 17th of October to press for direct connectivity of this airport with major metros like Delhi, Mumbai & Kolkata.
Since its inauguration by the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on the 22nd of September, erratic operations from this airport by the fledgling airline ‘Air Odisha’ was a major source of disappointment. However, the news of its closure, just about two weeks after it’s inauguration has caused a lot of dismay and disappointment among all Odias. From the day of its inauguration, only 6 flights took off from this airport.
In the light of such a situation NROs today knocked at the doors of the Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik. A delegation flew down from Dubai, UAE and met the Chief Minister and emphasised on the need for the proper functioning of this airport for the overall development of the region.
According to a member of the delegation Capt. Soumya Ranjan Patnaik – Director & CEO, International Shipping & Logistics FZE (A Tata Group Company), Dubai the real fillip to the development of the region will happen when the airport starts its operations and direct air connectivity with major metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata are established.
Another member of the delegation Priyadarshee Panigrahi – General Manager, Wipro Unza Middle East Limited (A Wipro Group Company), Dubai said ‘Bhubaneswar has about 11 daily direct flights from Delhi and about 4 daily direct flights from Mumbai. Initially, to ensure viability of flight services, some of these direct flights can be made hopping flights (with a stopover at Jharsuguda), for some days of the week’.
The Chief Minister gave the delegation a patient hearing. His office said that the State Government has strongly recommended to the Government of India to ensure direct air connectivity to Jharsuguda airport by making the Air India flight from Delhi to Bhubaneswar operate via Jharsuguda. Official sources at the Chief Minister’s office also said that the State Government had offered to subsidise such flights so that the impetus to start such operations is provided by it.
The NROs also had a freewheeling discussion with the Chief Minister and expressed their happiness at the way Odisha has been projecting itself to the outside world. Of particular praise were the initiatives of the Odisha Government to promote Hockey, first by sponsoring the Indian Hockey Team and then by organising the forthcoming Hockey World Cup at Bhubaneswar. The Government’s efforts to develop Bhubaneswar as a Smart City and a Sports Hub were also lauded by the NROs. The NROs also talked about the improvement in Odisha’s visibility in the International Media. The Chief Minister was visibly pleased to hear this and expressed his happiness to learn of the positivity about Odisha in the International Media.
The memorandum was signed by senior members of the Odia Community of UAE:
Capt. Soumya Ranjan Patnaik – Director & CEO, International Shipping & Logistics FZE (A Tata Group Company), Dubai
Manas Panda – Director & General Manager, nVent Electrical ME FZE, Dubai
Rajesh Tripathy – General Manager, S.P. Jain School of Global Management, Dubai
Priyadarshee Panigrahi – General Manager, Wipro Unza Middle East Limited (A Wipro Group Company), Dubai
Arvind Biswal – Head Legal, VFS Tasheel International, Dubai
Rajat Rath – Senior Financial Analyst, Thuraya Communications, Dubai