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CHANGE ON THE GROUND

AAI Starts Taking Bids Under UDAN 4.0; Focus On Northeast India, J-K

To create an enabling ecosystem to enhance connectivity to remote regions via optimum incentives, operational flexibility.

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NEW DELHI: The Union Government has launched the fourth round of the regional connectivity scheme, UDAN 4.0 to boost connectivity to more remote and regional areas of the country.

Interested bidders and airline operators can view the bidding details of UDAN 4 on the Airports Authority of India (AAI) site or on the e-commerce company, MSTC’s portal.

UDAN, which stands for ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik’, aims to make air travel affordable and widespread. The UDAN 4.0 will focus on the priority regions including the northeast, hilly states, Jammu and Kashmir UT, Ladakh and islands.


The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation launched the 4th round of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) UDAN following three successful rounds of bidding to enhance connectivity in the remote and regional areas of the country.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) on Tuesday initiated the process of taking bids from airlines for various routes under the fourth round of bidding of its regional connectivity scheme UDAN.

Airports that have already been developed by AAI would be given higher priority for the award of VGF (viability gap funding) under the scheme, followed by airports…located in priority areas…followed by airports located in areas other than priority area(s),” it said.



UDAN 4.0: 

Revision of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) – The VGF provision for Category 2 / 3 aircraft (with more than 20 seats) has been enhanced for the operation of flights under RCS to priority areas.

The VGF cap applicable for operation of category 1 / 1 A aircraft (below 20 seaters) has also been revised to incentivize the operation of smaller aircraft under the scheme.

Priority Areas:

The priority areas include the two new union territories of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir, hilly states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, north-eastern states and island regions of Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.


Short-haul routes:

The VGF provision would be restricted to routes with stage length of up to 600 km for the operation of category 2 / 3 aircraft. Beyond this, no monetary support would be provided. The table for the provision of VGF for various stage lengths would be available for stage length up to 500 km.

Prioritization framework:

Under the scheme, airports already developed by the Airport Authority of India will be given higher priority for the Viability Gap Funding. The airports not part of the list but are located in the priority areas will be given priority next, followed by airports located in other areas.

Flexibility to change the flight operation frequency:

The Selected Airline Operator (SAO) will be allowed to change the flight operation frequency during the tenure of flight operation of the given route. However, this will only be allowed when the total scheduled flight operation, which was submitted as a part of the Technical Proposal, was conformed and adhered to within a year.

Inclusion of helicopter and seaplane operation:

The operation of helicopter and seaplane would be allowed under round four of the UDAN scheme under the NSOP license.

History:


The UDAN scheme was launched in October 2016 to make air travel affordable by providing connectivity to the under-served areas in the country by the revival of existing airports and airstrips.

Till date, under the scheme, a total of 688 routes connecting 137 cities have been awarded to airlines.

MoCA (Ministry of Civil Aviation) aims to operationalise 1,000 routes and more than 100 airports in the next five years. This would be achieved by focusing on operationalising routes in priority areas,” it said.

On November 28, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the Lok Sabha that flight operations have begun on 232 routes — connecting 43 small cities — out of total 688 routes awarded under UDAN scheme.

Besides making travel affordable and accessible to all, the UDAN scheme aims to boost inclusive national economic development, development of air transport infrastructure in all regions and job growth.

In the last three years, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation completed three rounds of bidding under the scheme in the last three years and awarded around 700 routes, many of which will be operationalized during the winter schedule 2019. The Ministry is working to develop more airports and operationalize the pending routes.

Overall, the Civil Aviation Ministry aims to operationalize around 1000 routes and develop more than 100 airports in the next five years. The Ministry aims to achieve this by focusing on operationalizing routes in the priority areas.

The Aviation Ministry aims to develop short-haul routes. The Airport Authority of India also aims to develop no-frills airports in the future and the routes connecting such airports will be prioritized for awarding the Viability Gap Funding.

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CHANGE ON THE GROUND

HISTORIC: 644 Terrorists From 8 Terror Groups Surrender With Arms In Assam

The terrorists have deposited 177 arms, huge ammunition and other explosive materials.

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GUWAHATI (Assam): 644 militants from 8 outfits on Thursday laid down their arms in Guwahati, Assam before Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal and senior officials.

Among those who surrendered include 50 terrorists from ULFA (Independence), 8 of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), 178 from Adivashi Dragon Fighter (ADF).

The terrorists have deposited 177 arms, huge ammunition and other explosive materials.

Welcoming the militants to the mainstream, Chief Minister Sonowal appealed them to contribute in the nation-building process. He said that laying down of arms would further boost the peace process in the state.


Terming it as one of the largest instances of the terrorist surrender in Assam, Director General of Police (DGP) Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said January 23 would henceforth be marked as a special day.

Mahanta said this will impact the peace process favourably. He hoped that more boys in different extremist groups would come forward to join this peace process.

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CHANGE ON THE GROUND

IRCTC To Pay Compensation Of Rs 100 Each To 630 Passengers Of Tejas Express

The Tejas Express and a few other suburban and outstation trains were held up due to a technical problem on the outskirts of Mumbai.

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MUMBAI (Maharashtra): Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has said that it will pay a compensation of 100 rupees each to around 630 passengers of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas Express because of a delay.

The Express, the second IRCTC-run train which commenced commercial operations from January 19, was delayed for over an hour on Wednesday afternoon as it was entering Mumbai. The train reached the Mumbai Central station around 1 hour and 30 minutes late.

The IRCTC spokesperson said the passengers will have to apply as per the refund policy. They will be given a refund after verification.


According to railway officials, the premium train departed from Ahmedabad at 6.42 am, two minutes late. But it arrived at Mumbai Central at 2.36 pm instead of the scheduled time of 1.10 pm.

The Tejas Express and a few other suburban and outstation trains were held up due to a technical problem on the outskirts of Mumbai.

The IRCTC spokesperson said that as the train was delayed, around 630 passengers who travelled up to Mumbai Central will be given compensation.



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AGENTS OF CHANGE

‘Orange Cafe’ By Acid Attack Survivors To Open In Varanasi On January 29

After the Sheroes Hangout Cafe in Lucknow and Agra, acid attack survivors in Varanasi will soon have a cafe that will be run by them.

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BANARAS/KASHI (Uttar Pradesh): After the Sheroes Hangout Cafe in Lucknow and Agra, a new cafe, owned and managed by acid attack survivors, is set to be inaugurated in Banaras/Kashi on Basant Panchami (January 29)—a day which marks the advent of spring in north India.

The cafe is named The Orange — with reference to UNESCO’s ‘Orange the World’ Campaign which sets aside 16 days starting from November 25 every year to galvanise action against all forms of violence against women.

The man behind the project is Ajay Kumar Patel, who started the ‘Red Brigade’ in 2011 which is an NGO that trains women in self-defence.


Patel said: “We are starting The Orange Cafe from a rented place but we soon plan to get ownership of the place. Our aim is to make sure that the acid attack survivors own the café and run it themselves.”

‘The Orange’ was initially planned to be situated at the iconic and divine Assi Ghat—one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations—but the property rates there proved to be too prohibitive. Eventually, the selected sited is now at Varanasi’s Durga Kund area in a 600 square feet space.

Patel has been travelling through the state since the past two years to connect with acid attack survivors in various districts.



He short-listed four survivors, who were willing to shift to Varanasi and take on the responsibility of running the cafe.

So far, Patel has short-listed 4 candidates to run the café, namely, Rekha Devi (35) (acid attack during a loot attempt in 2015) from Jaunpur, Somvati (18) (acid attack following a village dispute in 2015) from Bareilly, Vimla Passi (39) (acid attack followeing rape in 2008) from Rae Bareli and Badam Devi (35) (acid attack over a property dispute in 2012) from Varanasi.

We are now training these women to cook food, serve the customers and undertake the billing. We do not want them to depend on others for these tasks. For the first four months, we will pay them a token amount but they will later share the profit among themselves,” said Patel.

Somvati from Bareilly, who is hopeful of a better life in this new venture, adds, “I want to ensure good education for my 10-year-old son and the cafe will help me fulfil my dream’’.

Somvati was attacked with acid by her neighbour three years ago when she spurned his advances.

The decor, with hints of orange and red to mark the struggles of women, has been conceptualised by the Visual Arts Department of the Banares Hindu University. “We wanted everything to be hand-painted, but time constraints have made us use flex as well”, said Patel.


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