Bastar, battling Maoist insurgency for long, today became the latest addition to the country's aviation map with Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagging off the first flight from Jagdalpur to Raipur.
The regional connectivity scheme UDAN, links Bastar, 20 km from Jagdalpur, aerially with Chhattisgarh's capital, which is well connected to different cities in the country.
Eight people boarded the plane from Bastar which was flagged off by PM Modi from Bhilai. The plane was given the traditional water canon salute at the airport after being inaugurated.
While inaugurating the air service, PM Modi addressed a rally of more than 50,000 people at Jayanti Stadium here.
"Today, flight service was started between Jagdalpur and Raipur. Now the distance between these two cities has come down to 40 minutes from 6 to 7 hours.
"This is the result of the government's schemes that now more people are travelling in planes than in AC coaches of trains," PM Modi said.
He said that it was his dream to see that one who wears 'hawai chappal' travels in airplane.
PM Modi said his government was constructing roads as well as airports in areas where the previous government would stay away from even building roads.
Earlier the Raipur airport was restricted to only six flights a day but now it can handle 50 flights each day, he said.
He said this was the objective of the 'Udan' scheme of the central government, intended to connect small cities and towns by air.
Udan is a regional connectivity scheme under which the government plans to provide connectivity to remote areas and enhance access in under-served regions. The scheme has enabled the government to add 30 new airports on the aviation map in tier-2 and tier-3 cities under the first round.
Jagdalpur was one of the four cities in Chhattisgarh to get an airport under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) of the Centre.
The development assumes significance as the operation of the airport promises to give a big boost to the local economy of the region with air connectivity.