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PM inaugurates Kushinagar International Airport

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on October 20, 2021

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Union Ministers during the inauguration of the Kushinagar International Airport on October 20, 2021   -  PTI

Buddhist monks deboard the inaugural Sri Lankan Airlines flight after landing at Kushinagar International Airport   -  PTI

Sri Lanka Cabinet Minister, Buddhist monks arrive in inaugural flight from Sri Lanka

Delegates from twelve countries, including Sri Lanka, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore, attended the inauguration of the Kushinagar International Airport by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday in a move that is aimed at boosting Buddhist tourism in the country, sources said.

The inaugural international flight, which arrived from Sri Lanka to Kushinagar on Wednesday, had on board a delegation led by Sri Lanka’s Cabinet Minister Namal Rajapaksa, around 100 senior Buddhist monks, four State Ministers and other senior officials. Kushinagar Airport was declared as an International airport by the Union Cabinet on June 24, 2020.

The new international airport will benefit all in the region, be it the poor or the middle class, villages or cities, Prime Minister Modi said in his inaugural speech.

“By widening of the road joining Maharajgang to Kushinagar, not only will the international airport get better connectivity, it will also help sugar farmers transport their produce to sugar mills in Ramkola and Siswa easily. The opening of the new medical college in Kushinagar, peole in the region will have better access to health facilities,” he said.

Kushinagar airport in UP declared an international airport: Cabinet

Towards more inclusive tourism

“The flight from Sri Lanka will pave the way for increased traffic and greater number of visitors to Kushinagar, particularly from Buddhist countries including those in South-East Asia,” the source said.

Diplomats from other countries that attended the inauguration ceremony include from Mongolia, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Bhutan and Nepal.

The ₹260 crore-Kushinagar will have direct flights to Delhi four times weekly from November 26 and then Mumbai and Kolkata will also get direct flights to this city from December 18, Union Civil Aviation Minister J M Scindia said.

$15-million package

Kushinagar, in Uttar Pradesh (close to Bihar), is an important destination for Buddhists around the world as Gautam Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana here. There has been a long-standing demand for an international airport in Kushinagar, the source added.

Modi had announced a $15-million package for the promotion of bilateral Buddhist ties during the Virtual Summit with PM Mahinda Rajapaksa in September last year.

Published on October 20, 2021

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