Kushinagar soon to get international airport

The proposed Kushinagar International Airport in Uttar Pradesh has finally got a go ahead from the Centre.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation, through the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Airport Authority of India, has cleared the project, which is expected to provide a boost to pilgrim tourism in the state's Buddhist circuit.

The airport will be constructed under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode and the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (UPTDC) will soon be inviting bids. Work is expected to start in the first half of this year.

The Managing Director of UPSTDC, Avanish Kumar Awasthi, who visited the district two days ago, said: "We have all our clearances ready."

The environmental clearances are yet to come. To ensure it, the green belt, which was the main hurdle, has been made an integral part of the project, an official said.

Built made under the PPP mode, the airport will place the eastern UP district on the international tourism map.

The UPSTDC had appointed IL&FC as consultant for the project, which has proposed that the company whose bid will be accepted will not just construct a world class airport, but also provide infrastructure for developing the neighbouring area.

Kushinagar may be high on the tourism map, but the district is low on infrastructure, said the Additional Tourism Director (Gorakhpur division) PK Singh.

"Hence, the infrastructure facilities to be built by the bidder will include a 51-km connecting road between Gorakhpur and Kushinagar, a rest house near the airport and a market complex or a mall," said Singh. "All these will make a difference to the economy and provide employment to the locals."

One of the biggest projects being undertaken by the Tourism development, the greenfield airport will be catering to tourists and Buddhist pilgrims from South Korea, Indonesia, Japan, China, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Nepal. At present, tourists come to Varanasi and Lucknow airports and then travel by road to the Buddhist centres in eastern UP.

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