Kesinga: Although renovation work at the Utkela airstrip in this block in Kalahandi district was almost completed a year back for launching regular flights, the airstrip is still a non-starter, a report said Tuesday.
The airstrip established in 1962 in the Utkela panchayat of this block was renovated for operating commercial flights using 12 to 50 seat aircraft to Bhubaneswar, Vishakhapatnam, New Delhi, Raipur, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata.
The delay in making the airstrip operational has angered the people of Kalahandi and Nuapada districts.
Sources said that all major works at the airstrip have been completed except works on the signal room, control room and rest houses which will be over soon.
The runway of the airstrip is 918 metres long and 32 metres wide extending from east to west.
The renovation of the airstrip was taken up with the Rs 3 crore sanctioned in 2016-17 fiscal. The airstrip authorities carried out blacktopping of the runway, constructed drains, walls and fences, roads to the north and south of the airstrip and expanded roads near the guest house with the funds.
The Bhubaneswar-based private airline Air Odisha announced that it would launch regular flights from Kalahandi to Bhubaneswar in September, 2017.
The airline also conducted a successful trial flight from Bhubaneswar airport to Utkela airstrip May 23, 2016.
The airline also announced flight timings and ticket prices for flights from Utkela to Bhubaneswar, Bhubaneswar to Jeypore and Jharsuguda to Bhubaneswar.
The state works department even wrote to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry requesting it to help in land acquisition for expanding the airstrip in 2014-15 fiscal. Land will be acquired from Kokomunda and Themra villages located on both sides of the airstrip.
The blacktopping of the runway and construction of roads in the airstrip were completed at an expense of Rs 1.15 crore in 2013-14 fiscal. The National Highway-26 connecting the airstrip was also blacktopped in 2017-18 fiscal.
When contacted, Baidyanath Dash, deputy engineer of works department, said all major works on the airstrip have been completed, and hoped that flights would start from the airstrip soon.