Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Illustration: Moneycontrol)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate Kushinagar international airport in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday to facilitate air travel requirements of Buddhist pilgrims in India, the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Monday. “The inaugural flight will land at the Kushinagar airport from Colombo, Sri Lanka carrying 125 dignitaries and Buddhist monks,” the ministry’s statement noted.
Kushinagar is an international Buddhist pilgrimage centre where Lord Gautam Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana.
After the airport’s inauguration, the prime minister will also address a programme on Wednesday at the Buddhist site of Mahaparinirvana stupa and temple in which Sri Lankan Buddhist monks and ministers of the Sri Lankan government will take part, the ministry mentioned.
Kushinagar is the centre point of the Buddhist circuit, which consists of pilgrimage sites at Lumbini, Sarnath and Gaya.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Governor Anandiben Patel and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia will also be present at the airport’s inauguration along with the prime minister, the ministry said.
The Kushinagar airport’s new terminal building, which is spread across 3,600 square meter, was built at a cost of Rs 260 crore by the Centre-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) in association with the Uttar Pradesh government, it mentioned.
The terminal building at this airport is capable of handling 300 passengers during the peak hours, it noted.
Direct aviation connectivity with South Asian countries will make it easier for tourists arriving from Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore to reach Kushinagar and experience the rich heritage of the region, it said.
Tourism inflow is expected to rise by 20 per cent with inauguration of the airport, it mentioned.
Journey of Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Shravasti, Rajgir, Sankisa and Vaishali of Buddhist circuit will be covered in lesser time after this airport’s inauguration, it said.
Scheduled international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23 last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. But special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020 and under bilateral “air bubble” arrangements with approximately 28 countries since July 2020.
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