Jammu and Kashmir gets first international airport (Second Lead)February 14th, 2009 - 7:11 pm ICT by IANS
Srinagar, Feb 14 (IANS) Wracked by two decades of militancy, Jammu and Kashmir got its first international airport Saturday. It was inaugurated by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi who asked separatists to rejoin the democratic process.
The new international terminal of Srinagar airport is state-of-the-art. The first direct Srinagar-Dubai flight is scheduled for departure from here later Saturday.
The new airport terminal, spread over 19,700 sq mt, is made of glass and steel. It has all the expected mod-cons - air-conditioning, central heating, escalators, public address systems, CCTVs for surveillance and flight display systems.
“There are 16 check-in counters. The airport can handle 500 domestic and 450 international passengers at one time,” said an official at the airport.
The number of aircraft parking bays has gone up from four to nine.
Inaugurating the terminal, Gandhi said: “The start of the Srinagar-Dubai flight would open up avenues of employment and tourism for Kashmir.”
Gandhi also asked separatists to rejoin the democratic process, saying they should learn from the “massive people’s participation” during the recent assembly elections.
“Those sowing seeds of hatred among members of different communities are actually friends of none.
“Those following the path of violence must learn a lesson from people’s faith in democracy here,” she said, adding: “Peace and democracy are the only means to progress and prosperity.”
Gandhi also flagged off a train service from Budgam in central Kashmir to Baramulla district in north Kashmir through a satellite link by pressing a button.
The train service was earlier till Srinagar. It now connects north and south Kashmir - a 100 km stretch.
Gandhi claimed that despite the global economic crisis, India had not been impacted so seriously because of the policies of the UPA government.
“We have, in fact, provided relief to the people by reducing the prices of many items like cooking gas. History is made or unmade because of the steps taken by us, and we must therefore be very careful while taking decisions,” she said.
Gandhi also hoped that the ruling National Conference (NC)-Congress alliance, headed by Omar Abdullah, would work for the prosperity of the people.
Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad were also present on the occasion.
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