Lok Sabha passes bill to amend Airports Economic Regulatory Authority Act
The Lok Sabha on Thursday, through a voice vote, passed the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which was tabled in Parliament by the newly inducted Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiradtiya Scindia for passing.
The bill was earlier brought to Parliament in March this year and was referred for a review by the standing committee on transport, tourism, and culture.
The bill seeks to amend the 2008 Act by modifying the definition of “major airport” as under the current law, tariffs for the aeronautical services of a group of airports together cannot be determined. The amendment will now insert a provision in the original Act for tariff determination of a “group of airports.”
Presenting the bill, Scindia said that under this new clubbing, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) will give priority to airports in smaller cities while newer airports will also be inaugurated. He also listed various areas which have been the beneficiaries of the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) regional connectivity scheme of the government.
Apart from newer airports in Assam, Punjab, Karnataka, Scindia specifically spoke about Darbhanga Airport in Bihar which, he said, was “missing” from the map of civil aviation and had now witnessed 110 flight movements from there to various parts of India since last one and a half year.
“We have identified five zones for this clubbing which include north, south, east, west, and northeast zone. Based on this clubbing... the Airport Authority of India will be giving priority to airports in smaller cities and newer airports will also be inaugurated…,” he said, adding that the government has the vision to make new airports and also lend a “cross-subsidy” towards the smaller airports.
“While today we have 128 airports and 713 airplanes, we are aimed to lead... the aviation sector globally in coming future,” he said. Following Scindia’s speech, the bill was passed in Lok Sabha through a voice vote.
Earlier in the day, Scindia told Parliament that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it was resolved that air travel which was exclusively used by well-off people, “should also be accessible to the poorer sections… of Indian society.”
“If there has been any democratisation of the travel in India, it has only happened under the government led by PM Modi, and all these things are motivated by only one thought which is the Atmanirbhar Bharat,” he had said.
Scindia said that PM Modi was resolved to develop rural India like Gandhi who said, “the true citizen of India lives in a village.”
Scindia also praised PM Modi for launching the UDAN scheme and said the government was committed to the promise that the PM had made wherein he had said that every poor citizen of the country who wears a “Hawai” slipper should fly in a “Hawai Jahaz”.
Responding to a question by MP Sunil Baburao Mendhe, Scindia had said that there were many cities in India where no one had ever seen an aircraft and today over 100 flights are operating towards such cities.
“The dream of connecting each Indian (to every part of India) is getting fulfilled under the leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party led by Narendra Modi,” he said.
He added that 780 air routes have been specified by the government under the UDAN scheme and 359 of these routes are already functional with the government inaugurating 59 new airports under the scheme.
“As per the UDAN Scheme, only the unserved (with no air connectivity) and underserved (having up to 7 departures per week) airports are considered for providing connectivity,” Scindia said.
About India’s cargo transport share, Scindia said that the government’s efforts since the last one and a half years have increased it from two percent to 19 percent. He had said the government has facilitated cargo transport by making storage facilities available at 39 airports and refrigeration and cold storage facilities in 15 airports.
“These diverse steps have been taken so that our national carriers can also offer the cargo services…,” he said.