Efforts to open Jammu and Kashmir to international trade and tourism by the Centre come to fruition in a historical decision as the Civil Aviation Ministry green lights the launch of the first commercial flight between Srinagar and Sharjah in the coming months. Prior to this, Srinagar Airport had handled international flights only for the Hajj pilgrims.
At a joint press conference with J&K lieutenant governor, Manoj Sinha on Saturday, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia commented “the first international flight connection from Srinagar to Sharjah (in the United Arab Emirates) will be started soon. Efforts are on so that international travellers come directly to Srinagar. This will be a historic decision, not just for Jammu and Kashmir, but the whole country.”
At the press conference, plans to further develop the aviation infrastructure in Srinagar and Jammu were also discussed. Scindia announced that there shall be an investment of ₹1,500 crores at the Srinagar airport to facilitate the expansion of the airport from 22,000 sq metre to 63,000 sq metre, while ₹600 crores will be spent on the Jammu airport.
“The Jammu airport will have a new 25,000 square metre terminal, adding to the existing one,” the minister further added over Manoj Sinha’s assurance to hand over the desired land in Jammu by October 10 to the Airport Authority of India.
The Centre’s determination to rapidly expand infrastructure in the Union territory is further compounded by the revocation of Article 370. “Article 370, which was revoked by the Centre in August 2019, was a hindrance in the way of social, rural progress and everything in Jammu and Kashmir,” the Union Minister stated.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged progress and development for this region so that it touches new heights of progress, development and employment. It is with this thought that Article 370 was revoked,” Scindia further added.