Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport, which is an endeavour to connect Buddhist pilgrimage sites around the world, today and launched various development projects there during his visit to poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
The Prime Minister's Office had said he would also participate in an event marking Abhidhamma Day at the Mahaparinirvana Temple in Kushinagar before attending a public function to inaugurate and lay the foundation stone of various development projects.
Kushinagar International Airport won't just be mode of air connectivity. Be it farmers, animal keepers, shopkeepers, workers, local industrialists-it'll benefit all. It'll create ecosystem of business. Tourism will get maximum benefit, it'll generate employment for youth here: PM pic.twitter.com/Kv7wfgXhFz
- ANI (@ANI) October 20, 2021
The inauguration of the Kushinagar International Airport was also marked by the landing of the inaugural flight at the airport from Colombo, Sri Lanka, carrying a Sri Lankan delegation of over 100 Buddhist monks and dignitaries including the 12-member holy relic entourage bringing the holy Buddha relics for exposition.
The delegation comprises of anunayakas (deputy heads) of all four nikatas (orders) of Buddhism in Sri Lanka; Asgiriya, Amarapura, Ramanya, Malwatta as well as five ministers of the Lankan government led by cabinet minister Namal Rajapakshe, the PMO said.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla receives Sri Lanka's Sports Minister and son of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at an event in UP's Kushinagar where PM Modi has inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport. pic.twitter.com/RSPge5aUUa
- ANI (@ANI) October 20, 2021
The new airport
The airport has been built at an estimated cost of Rs 260 crore and will facilitate domestic and international pilgrims to visit the 'mahaparinirvana' site of Lord Buddha and is an endeavour to connect the Buddhist pilgrimage holy sites around the world.
Kushinagar International Airport has the longest runway of 3.2 km length in the state and is 45 metres wide.
The airport has the capacity for four arrivals and four departures of flights per hour. It also has a 3,600 square metre interim passenger building and arrangements are being made to make night flights also possible.
The airport will serve nearby districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and is an important step in boosting investment and employment opportunities in the region.
Prior to the event, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the start of an international airport in Kushinagar will bring immense employment and tourism opportunities in East Uttar Pradesh.
"The airport will bring immense employment and tourism opportunities and Kushinagar is eager to welcome Sri Lankan delegates and PM Modi on Wednesday. We will be able to send the message of international friendship and compassion to Lord Buddha, all over the world," he said.
The chief minister said, "UP is fortunate that it will get third international airport from PM Modi and the new airport here is going to play a vital role in the development of East UP and West Bihar. A big part of friend country Nepal will also be benefited."
"Three-four years ago PM Modi had said that Udan scheme will bring a new flight of development and even a person wearing 'Hawai Chappal' will be able to travel by air," he said, adding that before 2017 only two airports were functional in the state and now there are eight such airports in the state and Kushinagar airport will be the ninth one.
Modi will visit the Mahaparinirvana Temple and pay his respects to the reclining statue of Lord Buddha and also plant a Bodhi tree sapling.
He will participate in an event, organised to mark 'abhidhamma' day which symbolises the end of three-month rainy retreat 'varshavaas' or 'vassa' for the Buddhist monks during which they stay at one place in vihara and monastery and pray.
The event will also be attended by eminent monks from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Nepal, Bhutan and Cambodia, as well as ambassadors of various countries.
The PMO said Modi will walk through the exhibition of paintings of Ajanta frescos, Buddhist sutra calligraphy and Buddhist artefacts excavated from Vadnagar and other sites in Gujarat.
At a public event, the prime minister will lay the foundation stone of Rajkiya Medical College, Kushinagar which will be built at a cost of over Rs 280 crore.
The college will have a 500-bed hospital and provide admissions to 100 students in MBBS course in the academic session 2022-2023.
He will also inaugurate and lay the foundation stone of 12 development projects worth over Rs 180 crore, it added.
With inputs from PTI