Seeing the potential of religious tourism, the Centre is looking into starting air service to connect the holy city with Nanded in Maharashtra.
Union civil aviation minister Pusapati Ashok Gajapati Raju made this announcement during his visit to the Golden Temple here on Saturday.
Interacting with mediapersons, the minister said he has noticed that trains going to Nanded from Amritsar are full of Sikh pilgrims. “Parliamentarians from Punjab have also raised the demand of starting the flight. So, we will increase the capacity of Guru Ram Das International Airport in Amritsar and motivate the airlines to start the flight to Nanded,” he said.
Hazoor Sahib, one of the five takhts in Sikhism, is located in Nanded.
Talking about induction of more direct international flights from and to Amritsar airport, the minister said it depends on the traffic. He said more direct international flights can only be introduced in case there is enough traffic at the airport.
The minister made the same statement in case of the new Chandigarh international airport as well. When asked about the demand of giving the acquired land back to the farmers, he said only the high court could take such a decision.
Replying to a query about development of Ludhiana and Bathinda airports, he said seeing India’s growth rate, there was scope of developing the two airports, for which`100 crore each was needed. “We want performing assets, and not non-performing ones. So we will check the viability of these airports first,” he said.
Pays obeisance at Golden Temple
Earlier, the minister, along with his private secretary N Srinivasan Rao, officer on special duty Apa Rao and commissioner and executive officer YV Anuradha, paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and partook of the ‘langar’ in the community kitchen.
Sharing his experience of the visit, Raju said the holiest Sikh shrine provides peace of mind to a human being and disseminate the message of harmony and brotherhood to the world.
“The Golden Temple has four gates that symbolise the doors of this shrine are open for followers of all beliefs, and that all human beings, irrespective of their ideology, race, religion or caste, are creation of one God. No such example is available anywhere in the world,” he said.
Led by chief secretary Harcharan Singh, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee authorities also took up the issue of Sikhs facing problems due to their ‘kakars’ (religious items) while boarding Air India flights. They also urged him to start a flight from Amritsar to Chandigarh. The minister assured them to resolve all the issues after consultation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.