Unexplained Delay in Expansion Work at Rourkela Airport: Report

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The apron and taxiway extension work at Rourkela airport is getting delayed raising apprehensions about whether the facility will be ready for operations before Men’s Hockey World Cup, scheduled to be held from January 13-29 2023, at Odisha.

A tender of an estimated value of Rs 5.69 crore was awarded to Ranchi-based RK Mishra and Co in June 2021 to construct a new apron and taxiway at Rourkela airport. Since then, the company has taken nearly seven months to fill the land. Cementing of taxiway started recently, without any sign of pacing up the work, reported NIE.

The schedule to complete the upgrade work at Rourkela airport was March 2022. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) planned to upgrade the airport’s licence from ARC 2B license with ARC 2C license by May 2022 and start the operations of ATR-72 aircraft from the airport from October. Nevertheless, the schedule looks like a remote possibility with at current pace of work. AAI had posted three officers at Rourkela airport to monitor the work, and Chief Minister’s office is likely to assess the progress of the work by this week.

AAI accused of deliberately limiting the length of the runway at Rourkela airport

Despite Rourkela Steep Plant (RSP) providing additional 146 acres of land for the runway to expand it to over 7,500 feet, the AAI is extending the runway length to around 6,330 feet, which is insufficient to cater to big body aircraft such as A320, A320 Neo and A321 Neo. In the proposed length, the runway can accommodate only small-body aircraft such as ATR-72. Currently, the Rourkela airport runway measures around 5,655 feet that cater to ATR 72-600 and De Havilland 8-400 aircraft. Rourkela airport was granted ARC 2B license for 19-seater three years ago when such smaller aircraft were unavailable. AAI is also accused of dropping the plan to apply for upgrading the license.

According to Subrata Patnaik, Rourkela Development Steering Committee chairman and former president of Rourkela Chamber of Commerce & Industry (RCCI), AAI deliberately limit the length to 6,330 feet. According to Patnaik, it will be an embarrassment for the state of Odisha if commercial flight operations do not commence from the airport before the event.

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Ria is a lead news writer at Aviation Scoop. She writes from dawn to dusk, reads in the evenings, and draws at some ungodly hours. She loathes human interaction and finds solace in the sweet, musky smell of old books, and rain.

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