Of Kushinagar and Jewar Airports....

The Yogi Adityanath government has put on fast-track the plan to build international airports at the east and west ends of Uttar Pradesh by inviting bids to appoint a consultant for the greenfield airport at Jewar near Noida in western UP and releasing the entire budget of nearly ₹200 cr for the Kushinagar airport near Gorakhpur in the east.

This comes days after the government increased the air connectivity to the two existing international airports at Varanasi and Lucknow.

The move is part of the government’s strategy to secure all round development of the state.

“We are focussing both on road as well as air connectivity in UP,” CM Yogi Adityanath said at a review meeting of the civil aviation department earlier last week. “We plan to connect Lucknow with every divisional headquarters in UP and other state capitals by air soon. This government is working on development of all regions when it comes to air connectivity and not just one/two districts.”

On Saturday, the government invited bids to appoint a consultant who will prepare the techno-economic feasibility report for the greenfield airport in Jewar. The consultant will have to complete the task in 32 weeks. The chief minister has also passed directions to begin the process of land acquisition for the airport at the earliest. The Yamuna Expressway Authority has been appointed as the nodal agency for this project.

The government also released the entire budget of nearly ₹200 crore for making operational the Kushinagar airport by mid-2018. The previous Samajwadi Party government, headed by Akhilesh Yadav, had released only ₹80 crore for the project after central government-run engineering consultancy company RITES Ltd submitted an estimate in February 2016.

Soon after after assuming office in March, the Adityanath-led BJP government had released ₹50 crore for the project. A 3 km airstrip and a terminal building is coming up at Kushinagar, which is about 50 km from the chief minister’s constituency of Gorakhpur.

Kushinagar, where Lord Buddha is believed to have delivered his last sermon, is a big attraction for Buddhist pilgrims and the airport here is expected to see flights from Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Japan. At present, the nearest airport is Varanasi.

The state government had earlier initiated a plan to increase the air connectivity of Lucknow and Varanasi airports. Spice Jet has launched a direct flight from Jaipur to Varanasi while another from Jaipur to Agra is set to debut on December 15. A direct flight from Varanasi to Colombo has also been launched while the frequency of the weekly flight between Varanasi and the UAE has been made daily.

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