The Central government today gave in principle approval to name the upcoming International Airport at Mohali as 'Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport'.
A decision to this effect was taken by civil aviation minister Ajit Singh in a meeting with Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who called on him in his office at New Delhi.
During the deliberations the chief minister impressed upon Ajit Singh to get the airport named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh as a befitting tribute to the great legendary martyr, since a resolution in this regard had already been unanimously passed by the Punjab legislative assembly.
Immediately conceding to this demand put forth by Badal, Singh directed the senior officers of his ministry present in the meeting to get the necessary formalities completed in this behalf expeditiously.
Meanwhile, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also holds the portfolio of civil aviation, sought Ajit Singh's personal intervention to urge Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to lay down the foundation stone of this prestigious project at the earliest, so that it could be completed on its schedule to facilitate the people of region especially from Punjab besides wooing the leading entrepreneurs across the world to make huge investments here.
The deputy chief minister envisioned the Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport as a catalyst to propel industrialization in the state besides showcasing Punjab as the most preferred investment destination.
He also urged Singh to immediately take up the matter with ministry of defence to allow a daily flight to and fro from Sharjah to Chandigarh by Air Arabia-the designated airline of UAE as the chief minister had already raised the matter personally with defence minister AK Antony during a meeting with him at New Delhi recently.
He requested the civil aviation minister to start an inaugural international direct flight of Air India from Chandigarh to Dubai till the final clearance from defence ministry.
He apprised Singh that the Chandigarh civil air terminal was ready to handle international flights as it had already been declared as a custom notified terminal and an immigration post under the various provisions of Customs and Immigration Act of the Centre.
Taking up other issues with Ajit Singh regarding the commencement of domestic flights from Bhishiana Airport (Bathinda) and the expansion of domestic airport at Sahnewal (Ludhiana), the chief minister urged him for their early resolution to put the state on the country's aviation map.
He pointed out that both the issues warranted civil aviation ministry's prompt attention in the changed scenario as the prestigious Rs 21,500 crore Guru Gobind Singh Refinery had already gone on stream and the local hosiery industry in Ludhiana needed a much needed boost.
The chief minister also requested him to inaugurate the Bhishiana Airport near Bathinda by starting an inaugural domestic flight from Delhi-Bathinda-Amritsar-Delhi. He, however, said that it was now all the more important because Bathinda was being projected as a petrochemical hub in the region.
Badal also sought his personal intervention to advise the defence ministry to immediately approve the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) already forwarded by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) for all the international flights to be operated from Green Field International Airport Ludhiana being set up by M/s Bengal Aerotropolis projects Limited at a cost of Rs 17,500 crore.
He said the defence ministry had already given approval for Visual Flight Rules (VFR) which was meaningless since international flights operate according to IFR and without which the operation of international flights was not feasible during day or night, pending which the project was yet to take off.
Responding to the issues, Singh assured them that he would request the Prime Minister to fix the date for laying down the foundation stone of this ambitious project. He also directed the AAI to immediately work out the modalities to start inaugural international direct flight to and fro from Chandigarh to Dubai besides starting domestic flights from Bhishiana Airport (Bathinda).
He alo assured both of them that he would also request the Prime Minister to constitute an empowered committee to amicably resolve issues related to civil aviation ministry with the defence ministry to put the various civil aviation projects in Punjab on the fast track of implementation so that state could reap the maximum benefits of air connectivity to ensure overall development and progress.