Aizawl: Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has written to Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri regarding exorbitant air fares in Mizoram that he said violated the citizens’ right to equality.
As of June 26, 2019, the airfare between Aizawl and Kolkata for July 9, 2019, which is 241 nautical miles (446 km), is Rs 10,145, while the fare from Delhi to Kolkata, which is 708-nm (1311 km) is Rs 5,149.
While the fare for a 90-nm (166 km) Aizawl-Imphal journey cost Rs 7,895, tickets priced at Rs 3,049 was available for a 459-nm (850 km) Delhi-Nagpur journey on the same date.
“There is a problem faced by the people of my state when it comes to commuting to any part of the mainland. As you must be well aware of, Mizoram, is situated in the extreme northeastern corner of India between Myanmar and Bangladesh, its inaccessibility needs no elaboration,” said the chief minister.
Due to the cancellation of Jet Airways flights to Guwahati and Delhi from Aizawl since February 9 this year, Mizoram only has direct air link with Kolkata.
Zoramthanga said the air fares were unrealistically high as they are not governed by sector, length or flying time.
Two years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the launch of his government’s flagship regional connectivity scheme, UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik - Let the Common Man Fly), had said he intended to make people wearing ‘hawai chappal’ (slippers) fly in ‘hawai jahaaz’ (airplanes) through the scheme.
According to reports, only four of the 20 UDAN routes are operational in the northeast.
With the grounding of the Jet Airways and only high-priced low-capacity Air India flights available, people of Mizoram have to often travel to Guwahati and Silchar by road to take their flights in times of emergency.
In an earlier interview, the Principal Consultant of Civil Aviation in Mizoram, J Lalhmingliana, had said that he had requested the Centre for improvement in regional connectivity.
“Regarding the regional connectivity scheme of the Government of India, we have requested a new connection between Aizawl-Agartala, Aizawl-Gauhati, Aizawl-Dimapur, Aizawl-Shillong, Aizawl-Imphal. We have requested the ministry to provide a daily flight and not necessarily a big aircraft. Even an aircraft, which can carry about 62 passengers will be efficient and give us the regional connectivity,” he said.
Later, he said, “Till now, we have not received any positive reply from the Centre.”