Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday called upon various State governments and the Centre to adopt a ‘Team India’ approach and work together for the development of the country, keeping aside politics.
Laying the foundation stone for Extension and Strengthening of Runway of the Tirupati Airport, Naidu said “As far as development is concerned, both State and Central governments must work as Team India”.
On completion, the extension of runway would facilitate the landing of wide-bodied aircraft like B-747-400, B-777-300 ER. The existing runway is suitable only for operation of AB-320/AB-321 type of aircraft, he added.
Naidu emphasised the importance of Air, Rail and Road connectivity for spurring economic growth. Quoting the Directorate General of Civil Aviation report, he said that India had 13.9 crore domestic air travellers in 2018 — up by 18.6% as compared to 11.7 crore in 2017, he added.
Quoting IATA (International Air Transport Association) report, Naidu said Asia-Pacific region would become the driver of the passenger growth with more than half the total number of new passengers coming from these markets over the next 20 years.
Pointing out that infrastructure in aviation sector was hampered due to paucity of funds for many years, Naidu opined that Public Private Partnership was the way forward to expand infrastructure and building new airports. He said that success of the PPP models at Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad were worthy of emulation elsewhere.
Quoting the recent traffic data released by Airports Authority of India, Naidu said that passenger traffic at Tirupati, Rajahmundry and Kadapa airports surged high.
Observing that India was moving forward with 7.3% growth rate when the rest of the world was slowing down, Naidu said that there was a need for more investment in aviation sector. The growth in aviation sector would not only spur tourism, but also generate more employment, he added.
Naidu appreciated the government for providing air connectivity to currently underserved and un-served airports under the Regional Connectivity Scheme – UDAN. He said such measures would help people living in small and medium cities to have access to affordable air travel.
Referring to various projects initiated to develop Tirupati by the Central government, Naidu wanted the local authorities to work towards making the pilgrimage town into a full-fledged smart city.
The other initiatives include the re-development of Tirupati railway station with modern facilities and the sanction of important educational institutes – IIT, IESR, IIIT, Indian Institute of Culinary Sciences and Rashtriya Sanskriti Vidyapeet. Railways have also launched Maha Lakshmi Express between Tirupati and Kolapur.
The Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha, the Zilla Parishad Chairperson, Geervani Chandra Prakash, the Members of Assembly, and senior officials of Airport Authority of India were also present.