For building a helipad or heliports, it requires at least Rs 10 crore and for 30 districts, the cost involves around Rs 300 crore. In each heliport terminal, facilities for accommodating three to four helicopters with terminal building, apron area, boundary wall, approach roads, electricity and water shall be provided.
If reports in the media are to be believed state government plans to approach the 15th Finance Commission seeking Rs 300 crore for the construction of permanent helipads and heliports in all districts of the state. The helipads are required to provide relief to the people during natural calamities and also help in the movement of VIPs.
As per the government proposal that will be presented to the finance commission, the state cites that “Most of the districts of Odisha don’t have permanent helipads or heliports for landing of helicopters carrying VIIPs/VIPs or other dignitaries and national delegates. Besides, at the time of emergencies like natural calamities, law and order situation, helicopter movement is essential for rescue and relief operations. Thus, construction of permanent helipads and heliports in each district headquarters of the state is considered essential in public interest.”
A senior official of the General Administration (GA) department said, “The money will be spent for construction of permanent helipads/ heliports having facilities for accommodating three to four helicopters at a time with terminal building, apron area, boundary wall, approach roads, electricity and water.”
He said, “For building a helipad or heliports, it requires at least Rs 10 crore and for 30 districts, the cost involves around Rs 300 crore.” In each terminal there will facilities for accommodating three to four helicopters.Official said, “Besides the department related standing committee in its report for the 2017-18 has also recommended setting up of a permanent helipad in each district headquarters to facilitate landing of helicopters in all seasons including at the time of natural calamities.”
Joint Special Relief Commissioner, Pravat Mohapatra said, “Once the helipads come up, they would expedite rescue and relief operations during flood and other natural calamities. It would substantially reduce the response time.”Citing his experience during relief operations, he said “distributing food packets through choppers within an area of say 100 kms is easy and expenditure, too, is less. There will be less consumption of fuel and choppers will be able to carry more food packets.”He said “In 2007 as we had started helicopter operations from Chandipur in Balasore, we were able reach people affected by Subarnarekha floods within a short time. It would not have been possible from Bhubaneswar. Even reaching out people in Kendrapara district from Bhubaneswar during floods is a tough challenge.”
On the issue of VIP movement, a senior government official said “Now we have proper airstrips only at Jharsuguda, Rourkela and Jeypore. In other areas, we don’t have good airstrips which make it difficult for big planes carrying VIPs to land.”
Officials pointed out that proper airstrip in the tribal dominated districts of the state would help in the movement of forces to tackle the Maoists menace. “We need such airstrips in districts like Malkangiri and Kandhamal. It will make the movement of forces easy,” said a senior officer.