Govt’s decision of decreasing VAT on airplane fuel from 26.5% to 1% increased air connectivity to J&K: LG

Srinagar airport (Image for representational purpose only)
Srinagar airport (Image for representational purpose only)File: Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Monday said that the decision taken by the J&K government of decreasing VAT on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) from 26.5 percent to one percent has increased air connectivity to J&K, with more than 100 flights being operated from J&K now.

An official spokesman in a statement issued here said that LG Sinha, who was the special guest at the 4th edition of Heli-India Summit here at SKICC, Srinagar, said that J&K had seen a new dawn of development after the abrogation of Article 370, with increased road connectivity, air connectivity, and development of railways infrastructure with work on Rs 1 lakh crore worth projects underway in J&K.

He said that in terms of railway connectivity, J&K would be connected to Kanyakumari by next year.

Organised by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India (GoI) with the support of the J&K government, Pawan Hans Ltd, and FICCI, the summit ‘Helicopters for Last Mile Connectivity’ brought together various stakeholders of the helicopter industry and provided a common platform to discuss the growth of the helicopter industry, the issues, challenges, and solutions for the future.

The LG commended the work of the Union Civil Aviation Ministry, Pawan Hans Ltd, and FICCI for promoting heli services as a means of public transport for both passengers and cargo to boost last-mile connectivity.

Welcoming the stakeholders of the civil aviation sector and helicopter industry from across the country to J&K, he said that the Heli India Summit would play a significant role in promoting HeliSewa as last-mile connectivity.

“Various scenic destinations in J&K are witnessing year-round tourist influx, which has the potential to boost the Heli-Tourism market in J&K. We are committed to facilitating and helping in the growth of heli operations. I invite the industry captains to be partners in this transformational journey,” the LG said.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had ensured Nav-Nirman of J&K with robust infrastructure, road connectivity to all villages, housing, rural electrification, and full utilisation of natural and human resources to meet the demands of modern society.

The LG said that the Gati Shakti-National Master Plan was paving the way for the coordinated implementation of infrastructure schemes like Bharatmala, Sagarmala, and UDAN.

Highlighting the reforms introduced by PM Modi, he said, “Country's aviation sector has witnessed an unprecedented growth in passenger traffic and a corresponding increase in the number of flight routes, aircraft, and enhanced regional air connectivity to fulfill the aspirations of the people by following the vision of Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik.”

“In a short time, 65 airports, eight heliports, and two water aerodromes were made operational in tier-2 and tier-3 cities under the guidance of PM Modi, and soon India will cross over into the top 10 air freight markets shortly,” the LG said.

He reiterated the J&K government’s commitment to improving connectivity, particularly in remote and far-flung areas, and providing affordable transportation to the people of J&K.

“Rs 1 lakh crore is being spent on road and tunnel infrastructure, which are opening up new vistas of socio-economic growth of J&K,” the LG said.

He said significant decisions like the reduction of VAT on ATF from 26.5 percent to 1 percent and abolishing the load penalty at Jammu airport had revived J&K's civil aviation sector.

“Srinagar airport is setting a new record in terms of the number of flights per day. Within a year, from 20-25 daily flights, today 80 to 100 flights are operating at Srinagar airport every day,” the LG said.

He said that after the decision to abolish the load penalty at Jammu airport, the number of flights had increased and the citizens of Jammu division had got better and more economical facilities to travel to Delhi and other parts of the country, and the business sector had also gained new dynamism.

“We have already laid down the roadmap to fulfill the aspirations of every section of society. A lot has been achieved in the last three years. Remarkable progress in infrastructure and other sectors present a tremendous opportunity for J&K to realise its full potential,” the LG said.

He said that the achievements in the tourism sector included the development of 75 offbeat destinations that accelerated the development process and utilised the energies and talents of the human capital.

The LG said that inclusive development provides J&K considerable leverage in pursuing the objective of Aatma-Nirbhar J&K.

“Today we have a rapidly growing economy, expanding markets for agriculture and allied sectors and widening the industrial base to integrate J&K's economy into the country's mainstream,” he said.

The LG said that the broad objectives of the summit were to create a world-class helicopter manufacturing ecosystem in India, promote tourism in the Himalayan states by providing uninterrupted helicopter services to the tourist hotspots, encourage helicopter-based emergency medical services (HEMS), and enhance the role of helicopters in supporting other industries.

Secretary, Union Ministry of Civil Aviation, Rajiv Bansal in his welcome address briefed on the steps taken by the Civil Aviation Ministry in providing air connectivity and heli services to un-served and potential regions.

Chairman FCCI-Civil Aviation Committee and President and MD Air Bus India Remi Maillard expressed his commitment to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Centre for the growth and progress of heli services in India.

Additional Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) Usha Padhee presented the vote of thanks.

Various initiatives of the Ministry of Civil Aviation were also launched on the occasion.

Representatives from the entire spectrum of industries, various states and union territories, government departments, defence services, experts, delegates, AAI, Pawan Hans, a team of MoCA, and various stakeholders attended the summit at SKICC.

Principal Secretary, Department of Civil Aviation, J&K, Alok Kumar, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang K Pole, and Secretary to the Government, Tourism Department, Sarmad Hafeez were present on the occasion.

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