"Government will play a vital role in connecting remote areas. A regional airline policy will be in place soon. The thrust area of the policy will be to ensure that airlines connect these remote areas without bothering about commercial viability," Civil Aviation Secretary K N Shrivastava said at an ASSOCHAM conference on aviation and tourism.
    
Replying to questions later, he said a conference of state ministers and officials has been convened next month where issues of regional connectivity would be discussed in- depth before the policy was finalised.
    
In June, government identified 51 cities in Bihar, Assam, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra to develop low-cost airports. 50 more airports would be taken up for development in the second phase.
    
Maintaining that development of regional airports was an essential part of the government's efforts to improve connectivity to remote areas, Shrivastava said this was more essential as capacity constraints existed at major airports like those in Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Patna.
    
At present, Chennai airport did not have any capacity constraint but the growth in air traffic would require a second airport to be built in the next 6-7 years. Land at Sriperumbudur has been identified for the purpose, he said.
    
Advisor to Prime Minister T K A Nair recommended urgent efforts for civil aviation, tourism and hospitality sectors and the ministries to work in tandem to grow tourism and connectivity across the country.
    
"All such activity will have to ultimately benefit the poor in the backward areas," he said, asking the business to "keep in mind the larger objectives of inclusive growth."
    
Union Culture Minister Chandresh Katoch also suggested concerted action by aviation and tourism industry to encourage tourist movement in the country, saying this would lead to more employment and income in remote areas.

(Agencies)

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