Chief Secretary G C Pati has urged Department of Defence Production secretary G Mohan Kumar to advise HAL to develop the airstrip that would facilitate transport of aircraft engines manufactured by the company at Sunabeda by air instead of transporting by road to Visakhapatnam.

"The development of this airstrip, including its expansion, will facilitate the landing of Avro and other category of aircraft. The state government would like to have the airstrip developed so that it is fit for commercial operations," said Pati in a letter to G Mohan Kumar.

Pati said the establishment of various industries, including NALCO at Koraput and HAL at Sunabeda area, would boost opportunity for commercial operation of the airstrip.

The airstrip is on the side of Visakhapatnam-Jagdalpur national highway and lies between Raipur and Visakhapatnam air corridor.

While the state government has already requested the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to provide technical and financial support to make it a full-fledged airport, the Koraput district administration has identified 445.52 acres of land for expansion of runway and other infrastructures, said the official.

The government has asked the Koraput collector to finalise the financial implication for land acquisition. The airstrip was constructed on 60 acres of land in 1962.

The government has entered into an agreement with the AAI to develop the Jharsuguda airstrip in western Odisha into a full-fledged airport with an investment of Rs 210 crore.

Odisha has 17 airstrips and 16 helipads. Barring the Birasal airstrip in Dhenkanal district, all other airstrips have existing runways that can take small aircraft.

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