Boost for Buddhist pilgrimage; Kushinagar airport all set to open in Uttarpradesh

Kushinagar- a pilgrimage site in east Uttarpradesh is all set to operate the international airport in Kushinagar district in Uttarpradesh. PM Modi will inaugurate the airport and the move is aimed at boosting tourism on the Buddhist circuit on the back of three markers for economic development – trade, tourism, and technology. 

In August 2021, the airport was licensed to operate as a customs notified airport, facilitating the movement of international passengers and Buddhist pilgrims. soon after the inauguration, the first flight will land at the airport from Colombo-Srilanka, carrying representatives of over 100 Buddhist monks and dignitaries. 

“We will be able to send messages of international friendship and compassion to Lord Buddha all over the world,” said Uttarpradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adhithyanath. As per reports, the airport will put the district on the international aviation map, providing direct connectivity with South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.

The airport which is built at an estimated cost of ₹ 260 crores with the longest runway of 3200 meters will benefit domestic as well as international pilgrims.

The Union Cabinet Committee chairman Narendra Modi on 24th June 2020 decided to recognize the Kushinagar Airport as an International Airport. It is India’s 29th International Airport and the fourth of Uttar Pradesh including Jewar Airport.

This airport is of strategic importance to India, as the border to Nepal is nearby. In June 2020, the airport was awarded international status to attract Buddhist pilgrims. In February 2021, the airport got all necessary clearances from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation(DGCA) to be recognized as the international airport, becoming the third international airport in Uttar Pradesh after Lucknow and Varanasi.

During the inauguration along with ambassadors of at least 10-15 countries, 100 priests and eight high priests from Sri Lanka, led by the country’s prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son Namal, will also be present. After inaugurating the Kushinagar International Airport, PM Modi will take part in an event to mark Abhidhamma Day at Mahaparinirvana temple. 

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The CM said before 2017, only two airports were functional in the state but now there are eight, and Kushinagar airport will be the ninth functional airport in the state. Additionally, the airport apron can accommodate 5 Boeing 737-900 types of aircraft at a time.