CHANDIGARH: A year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Chandigarh international airport, the first international flight from here to Sharjah took off today.
However, the mega event saw a twist with Haryana raising strong objection on Punjab Government claiming the airport to be as "Mohali" international airport.
The city got international connectivity with the arrival of an Air India flight from Sharjah and later on the inaugural departure flight took off to Sharjah this evening, in which Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal was onboard with a state level delegation headed for Dubai.
Describing the maiden direct international flight from "Mohali International Airport" as a red letter day, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said that it was a step further towards emerging the state as 'hub of air connectivity' thereby immensely benefiting the Punjabi diaspora settled across the globe.
Interacting with the media persons on the sidelines of starting of the inaugural international flight, Badal said that it was a matter of great pride and satisfaction for the Punjabis that Punjab was the first in the northern region to have two international airports.
He said that this international Airport at "Mohali", second in the state after Amritsar, was result of persistent efforts made by the state government.
He said that the commencing of international flights from this airport would give much needed boost to the economy of the state by connecting it with the rest of world.
Badal thanked Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajpatti Raju and said that it was a magnificent gift of NDA government to the Punjabis settled across in different parts of the world as it would enable them stay well connected with their roots.
However, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar raised strong objection to Punjab claiming the airport to be as "Mohali" international airport and shot off a demi-official letter to his Punjab counterpart Badal.
"I am happy to note that Chandigarh International Airport Limited (CHIAL) is going to start its international operations with the first international flight of Air India from Chandigarh to Sharjah (UAE).. This is a welcome culmination of our persistent efforts with the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
"However, I am deeply anguished by the advertisements that appeared in various newspapers today terming the Chandigarh International Airport as Mohali International Airport. This is factually incorrect," Khattar wrote to Badal. Khattar further mentioned, "the fact is that the final nomenclature of this airport has not yet been decided by the Government of India. This airport is managed by Chandigarh International Airport Limited where Airports Authority of India is having 51 per cent equity partnership and State Governments of Haryana and Punjab are having equity at the rate of 24.5 per cent each in the said Company".
"Being the equal partner in the Chandigarh International Airport Limited, we strongly object to the misleading advertisement campaign carried out by the State Government of Punjab. I request you to kindly look into the matter and take remedial action in this regard," Khattar said in his strongly worded letter.
Earlier, Haryana had maintained that it will have no objection if the Chandigarh international airport was named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh after demand was raised from various quarters including from the legendary martyr's kin in this regard.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Minister said that this airport would act as a catalyst to boost industrialization in the state besides showcasing Punjab as the most preferred investment destination to woo the leading entrepreneurs across the world to make huge investments in the state.
Badal said that International air connectivity from "Mohali" was all the more important because it would connect the entire Northern region comprising Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttrakhand and even the western part of Uttar Pradesh with the other parts of the world.
He said that in the absence of this international airport daily a large number of passengers from the Northern states were left with no other option but to travel Delhi for boarding the international flights, which not only caused undue harassment to them but also resulted in huge wastage of time, money and energy.
Addressing the media persons on the occasion, the Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said that with the operationalization of the "Mohali" International Airport, a major promise made to the people of Punjab has been fulfilled by the state government.
Terming this as a historic occasion, he said that this initiative would go a long way to propel and IT and tourism sector in the state.
He also said that this Airport would immensely benefit the Punjabi diaspora settled abroad to frequently visit their relations in a hassle free manner besides connecting them with the roots of their motherland.
Earlier the Chief Minister accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister welcomed the Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajpatti Raju.