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Friday, November 26, 2021

Yogi's magical magnificence - Jewar International Airport

The imposing structure ‘Thanjai Periya Kovil’  Brihadeeswaram  “Peruvudaiyar Kovil” (தஞ்சைப் பெருவுடையார் கோயில்) is one of India's most prized architectural sites. Built by emperor Raja Raja Chola I and completed in 1010 AD, Brihadeeswarar  Temple of Lord Shiva is  popularly known as the Thanjai Periya kovil  ('Big Temple)', turned 1000 years ancient  in 2010. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Great Living Chola Temples".


Miles away lies – Jewar, a nagar panchayat in Gautam Buddha Nagar District in the Uttar Pradesh.  History records that the town was named after the sage Maharshi Jaawali.  In the west of Jewar at a distance of 1 km. is an ashram and an old temple of the Maharshi.  Jewar is located in the suburbs of Greater Noida about 60 km. from Noida, 40 km from Greater Noida, 33 km from Gautam Buddha University and 35 km. from Khair. It is in news – Internationally !! 

The idea for an airport in Jewar was mooted during Rajnath Singh’s tenure as UP CM in 2001. In 2010, the then CM, Mayawati, proposed a Taj Aviation Hub, which did not make any headway.  The foundation stone of the Noida International Airport at Jewar in Uttar Pradesh was laid by Prime Minister  Shri Narendra Modiji with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister Jyothiraditya Scindia present.  

Once completed, the airport will be India’s largest. With the foundation-laying ceremony for the Noida International Airport, Uttar Pradesh is now on its way to having five international airports, the highest for any state in India. In perspective, the state had only two international airports since 2012 when Varanasi got this distinction after Lucknow. The international airport at Kushinagar became operational after it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25th Nov   2021, while work on the international airport in Ayodhya is in full swing and air services are expected to start early next year. The fifth international airport is to come up at Jewar near Noida in the National Capital Region (NCR). The airport will also be the country's "first net zero emissions airport". 

At present, Uttar Pradesh has 8 operational airports, while 13 airports and 7 airstrips are being developed. The operational airports handling commercial flights in Uttar Pradesh are Lucknow, Varanasi, Kushinagar, Gorakhpur, Agra, Kanpur, Prayagraj and Hindon (Ghaziabad). The unique distinction of Uttar Pradesh in providing unmatched air connectivity in the country is in keeping with the Government’s commitment to ensure uninterrupted multi-modal connectivity on land, railways, water and air. The ambitious Prime Minister’s GatiShakti National Master Plan has infused a sense of urgency into the plans for infrastructure development in the state. 

The Noida International Airport at Jewar is spread across an area of 5,000 acres and is being developed by Zurich International Airport AG at an estimated cost of Rs 29,560 crore. The Swiss Airport company had won the bid in November 2019 following which a concessionaire agreement had been signed with the state government. 

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has hailed the airport project as “monumental” for residents in Western UP and the NCR region. The airport is part of the government’s aviation push to bring operational flights to smaller cities. A concession agreement was signed in October last year with the concessionaire, Yamuna International Airport Private Limited (YIAPL), an SPV of the bid winner Zurich International Airport AG. In 2019, The Zurich Airport offered a bid of Rs 400.97 per passenger followed by a bid of Rs 360 by Adani Group and emerged as the winner. Noida International Airport Limited, a joint venture, was incorporated as a government organisation in which UP government has 35%, Noida Authority 35%, Greater Noida Industrial Authority 12.5% while Yamuna Expressway Industrial Authority has 12.5% share holding. 

Jewar Airport is located about 72 km from the existing IGI Airport in New Delhi, 40 km from Noida, and about 40 km from the multi-modal logistics hub at Dadri. The airport will have multi-modal connectivity owing to its proximity to the existing Yamuna Expressway (Greater Noida to Agra), close to Eastern Peripheral Expressway and it will be linked with Delhi-Mumbai Expressway at Ballabhgarh, Khurja-Jewar NH 91, dedicated freight corridor, Metro Extension from Noida to NIA and the proposed High Speed Rail (Delhi-Varanasi) at airport terminal. A 60-meter wide road parallel to the Expressway proposed to be widened to 100 metres. The Jewar airport will be developed in four phases over the next 30 years. As per initial calculations, phase 1 will witness an approximate traffic of 12 million passengers per annum, which is expected to increase to 70 million passengers per annum by the end of phase 4. The cost of the Jewar airport from the first phase is set to increase from Rs 4,588 crore to Rs 29,560 crore.

Great events happen when great people are at the reign !  .. .. now read the news part too .. .. that of a jinx.  While former Uttar Pradesh Chief Ministers Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati were scared of visiting Noida, CM Yogi Adityanth on Thursday reached the state’s urban hub, breaking the famous Noida ‘jinx’ yet again. ‘Noida jinx‘ is a superstitious belief among political parties and Chief ministers in Uttar Pradesh that a person who goes to Noida during his/her chief ministership loses the next elections. However, CM Adityanath, along with Prime Minister  Shri  Narendra Modiji, visited Noida on November 25 for the groundbreaking (Bhoomi Pujan) ceremony of Noida International Airport in Jewar, Uttar Pradesh.  This is not the first time, earlier in 2017 - Mr. Adityanath had visited Noida accompanying  the Prime Minister   for the inauguration of the new Metro line that reduces  travel time to parts of south Delhi by at least 30 minutes.

“There must be no space of superstition in governance. Government must not be driven by superstition . A good administrator must avoid such practices and I congratulate Yogi Adityanath that he has set an example,” Shri Modiji said at that time.   

It is believed that the Noida jinx has been the reason for several U.P. Chief Ministers, including Veer Bahadur Singh, Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Kalyan Singh and Mayawati losing power after a visit to Noida. Rumours about the jinx started in 1988 when Chief Minister Veer Bahadur Singh lost power within days of visiting Noida. Later in 1997 and again in 2012, Ms. Mayawati lost power after visiting Noida. In 1989, N.D. Tiwari and 10 years later, in 1999, Kalyan Singh seemed to be hit by the same jinx. In 1995, Mulayam was out of power within months of his Noida visit. Ms. Mayawati lost in the 2012 Assembly elections after she flew to Noida in October 2011 to inaugurate the Dalit Prerna Sthal. In August 2012, CM Akhilesh Yadav inaugurated the Yamuna Expressway from Lucknow and avoided travelling to Noida. The following year, he inaugurated infrastructure projects in Gautam Buddh Nagar without visiting the city. 

For some anything on UP would evoke derisive comments and none would expect Saffron clad monk Administrator to be so daring .. .. before you wish to comment anything on superstition / jinx – there is something associated with Thanjai periya kovil too, which turned 1000 in 2010, and should have been celebrated with gay and gaiety. 

In 2010,  facing a crucial Assembly elections in about seven months the then  Tamil Nadu Chief Minister played it safe by entering the ‘Big Temple’   for its millennium year celebrations from a side entrance in the North. A special make-shift entrance with permission from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had been provided for the 87-year-old Mr Karunanidhi, an avowed skeptic in religious matters, to enter the temple in his battery-driven mini-car to participate in the celebrations. The jinx was related to the fate that befell former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had visited the ‘Big Temple’ in 1984 for a celebration to commemorate the great Chola King along with former TN Chief Minister M G Ramachandran. Shortly later that year, Ms Indira Gandhi was killed by her own bodyguards in Delhi, while MGR fell seriously ill from which he never fully recovered. However, one of the senior DMK Ministers and Higher Education Minister K Ponmudi defended stating “our leader was dissuaded by many not to attend the function connected with Raja Raja Cholan, but he being a stout follower of the rationalist leader EVR, ignored them all and still participated in this function to mark the Big Temple’s 1000th year” 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar                                            
26th Nov. 2021.

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