A senior official said that connecting Bhubaneswar and Jeypore on the one hand and Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda and Rourkela on the other by small aircraft would be economically viable. Most routes would get nine-seater planes.

The government also plans to put up communication and surveillance apparatus, increase the length of runways and build boundary walls to keep stray animals at bay. Odisha has 17 airstrips and 16 helipads. Baring the Birasal airstrip in Dhenkanal district, all other airstrips have existing runways that can take small aircraft.

The government has entered into an agreement with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to develop the Jharsuguda airstrip in western Odisha into a full-fledged airport with an investment of Rs.210 crore. The airport's business will primarily be driven by corporate travelers, officials say. Vedanta Group firms have plants in Jharsuguda. While there are a number of sponge iron units in the Jharsuguda-Rourkela belt, the Ib valley region in Jharsuguda is known for coal deposits and mines.

The government has also proposed to develop the Jeypore airstrip into a full-fledged airport over 310 acres. This airstrip covers a region rich with major industries, both in the private and public sectors. It would also link tourism spots.

"The government is in talk with several private operators," Sharad Kumar, the director of Biju Patnaik Airport, said.

"They can operate small aircraft in the existing airstrips which have 5,000 feet of runway," he said. The bigger planes require at least 7,500 feet of runway to land and take off. The airstrips would also need navigational aids and control towers.

The government is in the process of developing five greenfield airports at Rayagada, Paradip, Dhamra, Angul and Kalinganagar to boost intra-state and inter-state civil aviation.

The state-owned Industrial Promotion and Investment Corp of Odisha Ltd (IPICOl) in association with the civil aviation department has initiated a road map t facilitate investment in aviation related activities.

Odisha's draft industrial policy of 2014 also envisages developing existing airstrips. The government aims to provide high class civil aviation infrastructure facilities and efficient and safe air services to meet the requirements of   domestic and foreign trade and tourism, an official said.

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