The Indian Railways brought industrialisation. Aviation can bring economic supremacy.
Historically, natural factors such as mineral resources, source of clean water, etc. were the major influencers in the growth of a town. Among the man-made factors, industry is the biggest factor that promotes growth of an economy, bringing with it related benefits such as electricity, better schools, improved amenities, etc. Industrial development in India was triggered when the British set up the railway system to improve transportation. The impact of connectivity was multi-fold and this impact has since become the primary reason why railways and roadways are considered to be the biggest infrastructure industries of India. Traditionally, government policies have been designed to support these aforementioned sectors. However, the aviation industry which also deserves an ‘infrastructure status’ has been largely ignored and underestimated.
Raigarh town is one of the oldest and important towns of Chhattisgarh state. It is situated on the Howrah-Mumbai main line of the South-Eastern Railway. On this very line, in between Raigarh and Raipur, (the capital of Chhattisgarh), is situated another district, the Janjgir-Champa. Raigarh and Janjgir-Champa are both equally rich in minerals, and while being located on the same railway line next to each other and having adequate water (both towns are located on river banks), the only factor that distinguishes one from another, is the availability of a 6,500 sq ft airfield in Raigarh.
Though a private airfield, the Raigarh population at large uses it. Many other industrialists have chosen to start their business and open factories within the Raigarh district due to the accessibility that the airport provides. In the year 2012, at least five new industries acquired land to establish their factories, giving rise to thousands of jobs. The district administration has also used this airport to their strategic advantage and benefited from the quick connectivity this airport provides, helping them effectively carry out their responsibilities.
Growth comparison of Raigarh with the neighbouring Janjgir-Champa district and town is given below.
While the industrialisation and growth of Janjgir Champa has restricted to along railway line and river, in the case of Raigarh, the growth is far spread out to 10 to 15 km away.
By virtue of its airport, Raigarh was quick to showcase the investment opportunities to visiting foreign investors and dignitaries, attracting healthy investment.
The government needs to replicate the Raigarh model at other locations in India, by promoting the growth of business aviation.
One mile of railway track contributes in connecting one mile on earth whereas one mile of airstrip contributes in connecting 1,000 miles on the earth.