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Friday, September 30, 2022

Maharashtra Chief Minister Inaugurates Chipi Airport

Catapults Konkan on the National Air-Map

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

INDIA. Mumbai: The much awaited new greenfield Sindhudurg (Chipi) Airport was formally inaugurated by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, putting the pristine coastal Konkan region of Maharashtra on the national air-map, on Saturday.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant, Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray and Union Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Narayan Rane, Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale and Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut and other dignitaries were present. Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the event online.

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The inauguration was preceded by a maiden Mumbai-Chipi Alliance Air commercial flight making a smooth landing amid loud cheers and music, bringing a host of VVIPs for the event. The Chipi airport becomes the 14 th airport in Maharashtra. Earlier the Dabolim airport(Goa international airport), was the only airport close to Konkan.

Thackeray in his speech, thanked Scindia for taking prompt action to ensure speedier completion of the airport project. This is a momentous occasion and party politics has no scope and the issue of development of Konkan is more important, he said. He also took a dig at Rane, taking credit for the development of Konkan saying that tomorrow someone may claim that the Sindhudurg Fort was built by him instead of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the great Maratha warrior king.

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Rane and Shiv Sena are at loggerheads for the last few years. Rane and Thackeray shared the dais after many years. Rane, who was the chief minister of the Shiv Sena-BJP Government in 1995-1999, subsequently joined the Congress. Then he switched on his loyalties to BJP to become a Rajya Sabha member and then the union minister. He was arrested in August from the Ratnagiri district due to his unsavoury remarks against Thackeray. He faces four FIRs in Maharashtra over his remarks, which triggered a political row.

More than two years ago, former CM Devendra Fadnavis and the then Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu had inaugurated the new terminal building and other facilities at the Chipi airport as flights under the UDAN scheme were expected to be launched from there.

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The airport has been built by the IRB Sindhudurg Airport Pvt Ltd, a Special Purpose Vehicle. The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) was the nodal agency to facilitate and supervise the entire project, built under Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Transfer (DBFOT).

Chipi airport, the first airport in Konkan.(Photo credit: Bipin Nerurkar).

Initially scheduled to operate intra-state flights, later the Chipi Airport would offer inter-state connectivity to Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, etc, with a target for over two-dozen daily services in five years, according to Scindia.

According to aviation circles at present most of the seats are booked till Diwali on various flights connecting Sindhudurg with Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik, Nagpur, and gradually other cities.

With a runway length-breadth of 2,500 meters X 45 meters, which can be extended by another 1,000 meters, the airport can manage up to 400 passengers or two flights per hour with an estimated annual capacity of over a million passengers.

The airport can handle aircraft like A-320 and B-737 and give a huge fillip to tourism in Konkan, renowned for its magnificent coastline, dazzling beaches, big and small rivers, creeks, abundant greenery, ancient temples, sea and land forts, a rich cultural heritage and major historical landmarks.

The Chipi Airport will also create more opportunities for the regional economy as the state government has announced plans to develop the coastal region as a major tourist and business-cum-leisure travel hub.

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Author

  • Raju Vernekar

    Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

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