Mini-Airport to come up at Kushalnagar

  • Bidding open under UDAN 4.0 by Civil Aviation Ministry
  • Airport first proposed by Madikeri MLA Appachu Ranjan

Kushalnagar: In a significant development, Kushalnagar in Kodagu has been selected among the four airports in Karnataka for which bids have been announced under the fourth round of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) or the Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik (UDAN) 4.0 recently. The other three airports are Ballari, Karwar and Kolar. It will be a mini airport in Kushalnagar.

The four airports are under the unserved airport category. Unserved airport means any airport at which there have been no scheduled commercial flights during the last two flight schedules published by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on its website.

The Airports Authority India  is the implementing agency of the Regional Connectivity Scheme and it has invited the bids. Bids have been called to operate 20-seater planes (category 1) of the RCS.

For a 20-seater aircraft to land and take off, a one-kilometre runway is needed and the land in Kushalnagar has this facility.

Boost to tourism

If the mini airport in Kushalnagar becomes a reality, it will boost extended tourism from Mysuru to Kodagu. At present, flyers from Kushalnagar either come to Mysuru or Bengaluru to take flights to different destinations.

Flyers to Gulf countries either travel to Kannur or Mangaluru from Kushalnagar by road. A flight from Kushalnagar connecting Mysuru, Kannur, Bengaluru and Mangaluru will boost air travel in the region.

Appachu Ranjan’s proposal

An airport to Kodagu was first proposed by Madikeri MLA M.P. Appachu Ranjan when he was the Minister for Youth Services and Sports in 2012.

Speaking to Star of Mysore, Appachu Ranjan said that he was happy that Kushalnagar Airport has been selected under RCS (UDAN) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government.

The land for the airport had been identified near Byadagutta, Madapura and Koodige and of this, land behind the Kodagu Sainik School at Koodige was finally selected. “There is 45 to 50 acre land owned by the Agricultural Department at Doddathoor Village till the border of Basavanathoor village that has been mentioned in the surveys conducted by the Public Works Department. In June this year, a team of officials from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had visited the site and had accepted the land proposal. If more land is required, it can be acquired,” he said.

Aviation Training Academy 

The MLA said that along with the airport, an Aviation Training Academy will come up next to  Kushalnagar Mini-Airport and this Academy will train flight aspirants from Kodagu, Mysuru and surrounding regions. “I am following up the establishment of the Airport and the Academy,” he added.

300-acre Government land 

Nagendra Prasad, President of Kodagu District Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants Association told SOM that when P.I. Sreevidya was the Kodagu Deputy Commissioner, a 300-acre Government land was identified near Aanekaadu on the National Highway 275 for the Airport. This land falls behind the 6-acre KSRTC Depot at Basavanahalli. The land had come up for discussion before the present DC Annies Kankani Joy too four months back.

“This proposal was, however, dropped due to opposition from environmental groups. Now that the AAI has approved the land behind the Koodige Sainik School, we can hope for a small airport in the near future. As per the RCS, an operator has to fly three flights per week. Even if it is a 20-seater aircraft, flight services from Kushalnagar will be a big boost for Kodagu tourism,” Nagendra Prasad added.

Water-logging problem

The Airport is in the backdrop of Doddathoor, Chikkathoor and Koodige hill ranges (though there is no official name for the hill ranges) and there are over 50 families residing in the vicinity. If the Airport has to come up, the families have to be evacuated and relocated.

The only hitch here is that the land behind Koodige Sainik School was submerged last year when more than one lakh cusecs of Cauvery water was released from Harangi reservoir. Villagers said that at present, the Agricultural Department grows paddy in this land and the location is near Harangi Dam.  If Kushalnagar Airport has to become a reality, then the Government must take steps to prevent water-logging, say villagers.

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