Undeterred by the silence of the UPA government on one of its most ambitious projects, the Taj International Aviation Hub (TIAH), near Jewar and the growing unease with the Centre, the Uttar Pradesh government is bullish on getting its other major project, the Kushinagar international airport, off the ground at the earliest.
As a step in that direction, the state tourism department has invited request for qualification (RFQ) and request for proposal (RFP) from reputed consultancy firms and consortia for selection as a consultant to prepare a comprehensive project report, bid document and concession agreement for the Development of an International Airport at Kushinagar and the Integrated development of Buddhist Circuit covering at least six Buddhist sites of UP in PPP mode on Design Built Finance Operate Transfer (DBFOT) basis.
Speaking to FE, GP Tripathi, joint director tourism said, “The move is to promote the Buddhist circuit, which includes Sarnath, Sravasti, Kapilvastu, Kaushambi, Sankisa and Kushinagar. The circuit is a big draw among Buddhists pilgrims, particularly from East Asia, South-East-Asia and South Asia and yet tourism prospects in the area suffer a great deal to the lack of infrastructure facilities. As a result, an international airport at Kushinagar is seen as highly necessary to cater to the traffic originating from Japan, China, Taiwan, Myanmar, South Korea, Bhutan, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Nepal”.
At present, the state government owns an airstrip at Kushinagar and nine tourist complexes with some appurtenant land in the Buddhist circuit.
The main task of the consultant would be to create world-class tourist infrastructure and facilities in the Buddhist circuit with the aim to increase the number of visitors and enhance the visitor experience and spread the benefits of development to the surrounding areas.
In order to realise the full potential of the Buddhist circuit, the consultant would be expected to conduct studies as to whether Kushinagar is suitable for the development as an international airport, whether Kapilvastu, where the state government already owns 98 acres of land, is suitable for the development of mega tourist complexes alongwith a golf course etc, review the existing infrastructure