Understanding UDAN: India's Regional Connectivity Scheme
UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik) is a regional connectivity scheme led by the Government of India (GoI) that aims to develop smaller regional airports to provide easier access to aviation services for common citizens. This scheme, which was launched in June 2016, is an important government initiative from the perspective of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Exam, and is covered in the Geography syllabus and the Economy under the infrastructure and economic geography of the UPSC Syllabus.
Background and Overview
- The UDAN scheme was initiated on 21st October 2016 with the goal of fulfilling the aspirations of common citizens by improving aviation infrastructure and air connectivity in tier II and tier III cities. The scheme has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration under the Innovation Category for 2020 and the Republic Day Tableau for 26th January 2022 on UDAN was adjudged as the Best Tableau by the Ministry of Defence.
- The UDAN scheme is based on the review of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) 2016 and is planned to remain in force for 10 years. The scheme has a self-financing mechanism through the development of the Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF), which funds the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) requirements of the scheme through a levy on certain domestic flights. This allows funds generated from the sector to stimulate the growth and development of the sector.
Initiatives Under UDAN
- The UDAN scheme has led to the formulation of several initiatives such as Lifeline UDAN, Krishi UDAN, and International UDAN.
- Lifeline UDAN: This initiative was launched in March 2020 during the COVID-19 period to operate flights for transportation of medical cargo.
- Krishi UDAN: This initiative, launched in August 2020, helps farmers to transport agricultural products and improve their value realization.
- International UDAN: This initiative aims to connect India’s smaller cities directly to key foreign destinations in the neighborhood.
Impact of UDAN on the Aviation Sector
- The civil aviation industry in India has emerged as one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. The UDAN scheme is aimed at making flying affordable for the masses, promoting tourism, increasing employment opportunities, and promoting balanced regional economic growth.
- The regional market in India is underdeveloped, and the UDAN scheme aims to encourage airlines to start flights to remote destinations, airports that are currently unused, and airports where there are few flights but not enough to meet demand.
- The UDAN scheme has been a major success in terms of providing air connectivity to smaller, regional airports and allowing common citizens easier access to aviation services.
- The scheme is self-financing, with the development of the Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) which funds the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) requirements of the scheme through a levy on certain domestic flights. This way, funds generated from the sector itself stimulate the growth and development of the sector.
- The scheme has also seen the introduction of several other initiatives such as Lifeline UDAN, Krishi UDAN and International UDAN. Lifeline UDAN was launched in March 2020 during the COVID-19 period to operate flights transporting medical cargo and essential services to various parts of the country.
- Krishi UDAN was launched in August 2020 to assist farmers in transporting agricultural products and improving their value realization. International UDAN aims to connect India’s smaller cities directly to key foreign destinations in the neighborhood.
- The UDAN scheme has also had a positive impact on the aviation sector, with increased employment opportunities and promoting balanced regional economic growth. Additionally, it has also helped in promoting tourism and making flying affordable for the masses.
- The scheme is expected to remain in force for 10 years and has already seen success in its first five years.
The UDAN scheme has been a major initiative by the Government of India to improve regional air connectivity and provide easier access to aviation services for common citizens. The scheme’s self-financing mechanism and various initiatives such as Lifeline UDAN, Krishi UDAN and International UDAN have made it a success in terms of promoting balanced regional economic growth, increasing employment opportunities and promoting tourism.
Written by IAS POINT