Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Kushinagar International Airport in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday.
The inauguration will be marked by the landing of an inaugural flight at the airport from Colombo carrying a Sri Lankan delegation of over 100 Buddhist monks and dignitaries, including a 12-member holy relic entourage.
The inaugural flight will also bring Buddha relics for an exposition.
The delegation from Sri Lanka would comprise Anunayakas (deputy heads) of all four Nikatas (orders) of Buddhism in Sri Lanka- Asgiriya, Amarapura, Ramanya, Malwatta – as well as five ministers of the Sri Lanka government led by Namal Rajapakshe.
The Prime Minister will also lay the foundation stone of different development projects at a public event here.
Built at a cost of Rs 260 crore and spread over 3,600 square metres, the airport is as crucial for religious tourism as Kushinagar, where Lord Buddha attained ‘Mahaparinirvana’. It is one of the four prominent Buddhist circuits.
The airport will also serve nearby districts of Uttar Pradesh as well as Bihar.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said the airport would bring employment and tourism opportunities in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The airport has been equipped to handle 300 passengers during peak hours. It will provide direct air connectivity to countries such as Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore.
The Prime Minister will also participate in an event marking Abhidhamma Day at Mahaparinirvana Temple. Eminent monks from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Nepal, Bhutan, Cambodia and ambassadors of various countries will take part in the Abhidhamma Day event. Union Ministry of Culture, International Buddhist Confederation in association with the Government of Uttar Pradesh has organised the event.
Later in the day, he will attend a public function to inaugurate and lay the foundation stone of various development projects in Kushinagar.
Kushinagar is the place where Gautam Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana.
It is an international Buddhist pilgrimage centre, the centre point of the Buddhist circuit, which consists of other sites at Lumbini, Sarnath and Gaya.
Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia will also be present at the inauguration ceremony.
Tourism inflow is expected to rise by up to 20 per cent with the inauguration of the flight.
According to an official release, the airport will serve a population of more than two crores since the airport has a hinterland of around 10-15 districts and will be a great support for the large migrant population of eastern Uttar Pradesh and western/northern parts of Bihar.
This will also boost the opportunities for the export of horticultural products like bananas, strawberries and mushrooms, added the release.
(With inputs from agencies)