Baripada/Rasgobindapur: Hopes for revival of the historic Amarda airstrip at Rasgobindapur in Mayurbhanj district have brightened as a delegation from the Union civil aviation ministry took stock of the condition of the airstrip.
The central team will submit their report to the government within seven days, it was said.
Notably, the airstrip, located 45 km from the district headquarters town, was built during World War-II. It has long been neglected.
The delegation of the civil aviation ministry was led by Union minister of state for water resources and tribal affairs Bisweswhar Tudu. The team visited the airstrip area and talked to people’s representatives and locals about development of the airstrip.
The airstrip was built at a cost of Rs 6 crore in 1940 by the British government to airlift American and British troops against Japan. Now, this facility is replete with potholes.
A large number of refugees had taken shelter at the airstrip after partition. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had landed at the airstrip during his trip to Baripada for a public meeting January 15, 1998. He was apprised of its condition.
The airstrip spread over 900 acres. Its runway was of 11,000 ft. It was considered the biggest airstrip in Asia.
After Independence, the airstrip was used for military and civil services and for DRDO at Chandipur, Kolkata, Jamshedpur and Dhamra areas. But for a long time, it has been left in disuse.
Various organizations, political outfits have been demanding revival of the airstrip, which has been included in the UDAN scheme of government.
The delegation comprising joint general manager of Bhubaneswar Airport (Civil) Goutam Ray, additional general manager of corporate headquarters in New Delhi Sanjay Kar, Mohammed Nasim of communication navigation services and senior manager (architect-planning) Sunil Singh and local leaders inspected the condition of its runway, extent of encroachments and explored the possibility of air communication from the airstrip.
In December 4, 2020, Morada legislator Rajkishore Das had spoken to then defense minister about the airstrip’s strategic location within 100 km radius of Kalaikunda Air Force base and Dr Abdul Kalam Island. He pointed out that a developed airstrip can provide an edge to Indian armed forces in case of a Chinese aggression.
Its revival will provide better connectivity to the district and provide employment and business opportunities to locals, Das added.