Guwahati/Agartala, August 26 (IANS): To facilitate the marketing of agricultural and farm products of the northeastern states outside the region, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has launched the 'Krishi-Udan Scheme', officials said on Wednesday.
AAI's Regional Executive Director (North East) Sanjeev Jindal said that it was one of his wishes that has come true after a dedicated domestic freighter started its services in the northeastern region.
"Under the Krishi-Udan Scheme, the services have been started in the region and it is aimed to benefit the local farmers and villagers whose products have higher value outside the region. AAI's aim is that they (farmers) should be paid as per the demand services," said Jindal.
AAI officials said that under the Krishi-Udan Scheme, the first domestic dedicated freighter of budget carrier SpiceJet from Kolkata bringing 5,800 kgs of air cargo landed at the Lengpui Airport in Mizoram capital Aizawl on Tuesday evening.
"In return, outgoing cargo flight from Mizoram, different types of local products such as orange, lemon, banana, ginger, pineapple and cut flowers were carried to Kolkata," they said. An AAI release said that the weekly cargo service would be available from Lengpui to Kolkata and to other cities of northeast India depending on potentiality of air cargo in the area.
The services of SpiceJet's dedicated freighters are presently available at Lengpui Airport and Guwahati Airport connecting through Kolkata. According to the AAI officials, SpiceJet had operated from Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport (LGBIA) in Guwahati to Hong Kong twice in January last year carrying fruit and vegetables produced in various districts of Assam. The customs, plant quarantine and other necessary services are also available at LGBIA.
The release said that the northeastern region of India is known for its rich, green and organic farm products which have huge demand in domestic as well as international markets."The need is to connect them with fastest cargo services with affordable freight rates, as most of the perishable products are wasted due to lack of storage and connectivity within the fixed time-frame or the shelf life of the products," the release added.
Meanwhile, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri for introducing flights between Agartala and Shillong (Meghalaya) and Agartala and Dibrugarh (Assam) under the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme.
"These newly-introduced flights would be helpful for people from all walks of life and boost the economy, tourism and connectivity in the region," Deb said in a tweet.
There are 12 airports in the northeast - Guwahati, Silchar, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Tezpur (all Assam), Tezu and Pasighat (Arunachal Pradesh), Agartala (Tripura), Imphal (Manipur), Shillong (Meghalaya), Dimapur (Nagaland) and Lengpui (Mizoram).