The EMAS, launched by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in 2013, has been a lifeline for the people of Odisha.
The visionary Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is unmatched in terms of conceptualizing new ideas for the development of the state. It was no wonder that while formulating his dream project of transforming Puri into a World Heritage City, the Chief Minister thought of establishing an International Airport. He could visualize that an International Airport, a Greenfield project, would be able to unleash the immense potential of the state to the entire world. It will usher in economic prosperity, boost the tourism sector and attract millions of Jagannath devotees across the globe to come annually for the famous rath yatra of the deities. The doors of development will be thrown open.
A darshan of Jagannath Mahaprabhu, spending time in the new look Blue Flag beach and a 35 km drive to the worldfamous Black Pagoda – the Konark Sun Temple , the equally famous Pipili chandua works, Raghurajpur’s pattachitra and the biggest brackish water lagoon Chilka make the flight to Puri a sure shot recipe of success and an eye-catching splendor for the visitor. The number of visitors to Puri has grown immensely over the years and it is bound to increase year-on-year. On 1 January this year, the footfall at the Puri Jagannath temple was around 5 lakh. The crowd on the first day of the New Year resembled that of the annual rath yatra.
The exponential increase in the number of visitors year after year has been a great achievement for both the state government and the people of Puri . Keeping this in mind the Chief Minister has put in place his project of extending basic amenities – rest rooms, cloak room , toilets, drinking water facilities etc for the comfort of the millions of devotees. While conceiving the World Heritage City project, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in 2021 wrote to the Prime Minister proposing to establish an International Airport at Puri.
His proposal provided glimpses to his vision of development . He justified the need of an airport and the future generations will appreciate the vision of the Chief Minister. Each line of the letter was worth its weight in gold as far as relevance and development is concerned. Once realized it will provide a new and unique identity to Puri in the world map. In his letter, the Chief Minister pointed out that Jagannath Dham is one of the four dhams of Hindus . Devotees of Jagannath come here from all corners of the world .
The Konark Sun Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site , is just 35 km from Puri . Similarly, the nearby the serene Ramchandi – Chandrabhaga beach is also attractive for foreign tourists . Chilika, the largest brackish water lake in the country, and one of the eco-tourism destinations, the Bitarkanika National Park, and the Buddhist site of Ratnagiri are a few of the other important tourist spots.
The proposed seaports along the state’s 480 km long coastline including the ones as Astarang, Dhamra, and Paradip are of great economic importance. The proposed coastal highway would connect these places by road . Citing all this, the CM in his letter, contended that the International Airport at Puri will hold the keyto prosperity soon. He noted that devotees of 192 countries who look forward to the famous annual rath yatra at Puri can fly into the holy town .
Needless to say the Civil Aviation Ministry approved the proposal for a Greenfield airport at the Sipasarubali area of Puri which was identified by the state government. While the statutory clearances are awaited, the state government has gone ahead with the land acquisition process. Necessary permission has been obtained for the use of 68 acres of forest land within the 1164 acres that is required.
There has been a crackdown on encroachers, acquisition of government and private land is in the process. The public hearing has been conducted. It is expected that the construction work of the airport will start by March 2024 and be completed expeditiously. Flights to various religious destinations in India are there. Puri was left out . Puri is posed to get an airport and there is no doubt it will transform the economy of the entire region and the state