Sri Lankan delegation marks first landing India’s Kushinagar Airport declared open,

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport on Wednesday at the Lord Buddha’s Parinirvana in Uttar Pradesh.

The airport is aimed at boosting tourism on the Buddhist circuit, as the ancient city of Kushinagar is the final resting place of Gautama Buddha, where he attained Mahaparinirvana after his death.

“Kushinagar International Airport is the result of decades of aspiration and effort. My happiness is two-fold today. This is the moment of fulfilling a commitment towards the people of Purvanchal,” said PM Modi after inaugurating the Kushinagar airport, the third international airport in UP.

He noted that the Kushinagar International Airport won’t just be a mode of air connectivity, rather it will create an ecosystem of business and generate employment opportunities for the local youth.

The prime minister said the development of Kushinagar is a priority for the Uttar Pradesh government as well as the Centre. To this end, special attention is being given to develop the places associated with Lord Buddha, improve connectivity and create facilities for Buddhist devotees.

Referring to the recent sale of national carrier Air India to the Tata Group, PM Modi said the move will give a major impetus to India’s aviation sector. “The country’s aviation sector should run professionally, convenience and safety should be given priority,” he remarked.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Governor Anandiben Patel, and Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia were present at the inauguration ceremony, along with a 130-strong delegation led by Sri Lankan cabinet minister Namal Rajapaksa.

The inauguration of the Kushinagar International Airport was marked by the landing of the inaugural flight at the airport from Colombo, Sri Lanka, carrying a Sri Lankan delegation of over 100 Buddhist monks and dignitaries, including the 12-member holy relic entourage bringing the holy Buddha relics for exposition.

The delegation also comprises anunayakas (deputy heads) of all four nikayas (orders) of Buddhism in Sri Lanka; Asgiriya, Amarapura, Ramanna and Malwatta.

Five ministers of the Lankan government led by cabinet minister Namal Rajapaksa, who is also the son of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, will accompany the delegation.

Later in the day, PM Modi will also participate in an event marking Abhidhamma Day at the Mahaparinirvana Temple.

Thereafter, the prime minister will attend a public function to inaugurate and lay the foundation stone of various development projects in Kushinagar.

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