PPP members protest over name of international airport

Object to signboard at entrance saying ‘Chandigarh International Airport’.

Mohali | Published: May 25, 2015 3:25:10 am
PPP, Chandigarh international Airport, airport name, protest, protest, chandigarh news, city news, local news, Chandigarh newsline, Indian Express The signboard outside the newly constructed international airport. (Source: Express Photo by Jasbir Malhi)

By: Gagandeep Singh Dhillon & Karthik Kumar

The controversy over naming the upcoming international airport met with another hurdle as members of the People’s Party of Punjab staged a protest on Sunday demanding the name of the upcoming international terminal at Mohali be changed from ‘Chandigarh International Airport’ to ‘Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport’.

The protest was organised by the district youth wing of the party outside the international terminal’s entrance in Mohali. Around 11 am more than 50 party workers gathered there and staged a dharna. Later, they met Mohali DC TPS Sidhu’s at his residence and handed him over a memorandum and sought for the state’s intervention in the matter.

“Earlier, the state had proposed naming the airport as Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport. However, recently a signboard put up near the entrance said it was Chandigarh International Airport. This move is setting a bad example all across the country as our martyrs are being ignored by the government. The visitors should know that our country has not forgotten its heroes who laid down their lives for its independence,” said Kirat Singh, PPP president of Mohali youth wing.

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However, Sunil Dutt, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Chandigarh International Airport said that a final decision is yet to be taken. He said, “The new board has been raised by Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) officials as a signage for commuters visiting the airport. So far we have received no notification from the Ministry of Civil Aviation regarding the airport’s name.” The naming of the airport has been highly debated over the years between the Punjab and Haryana governments and the Centre. Planned initially as “Mohali International Airport”, the project was to be a joint venture between Punjab and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

However, on January 4, 2008, just before Punjab was to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Airports Authority of India, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda demanded that Haryana be included as a stakeholder. On the initiative of then civil aviation minister Praful Patel, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal concurred and last-minute changes were made to the MoU to include Haryana. But neither side had the final word. Punjab kept insisting the name be changed to “Mohali International Airport”, while Haryana wanted it to be called “Chandigarh International Airport”.

Eventually, an MoU was signed and it was decided that the airport will be named ‘Chandigarh International Airport.’

In March 2008, the Punjab Assembly passed a resolution to name the airport “Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport”. Haryana agreed but wanted “Chandigarh” added while Punjab wanted to suffix it with “Mohali”. Both governments sent their proposal to the centre.

Again in 2013, the Punjab Assembly had resolved that the airport be named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh, which Haryana accepted. However, while Punjab wanted it to be named Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Mohali, Haryana wanted it to be named Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Chandigarh.

Following a series of disagreement between the two governments, the word ‘Chandigarh’ was added after Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh proposed that the airport be named Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Mohali-Chandigarh in order to end the stalemate.

On April 8, 2014 a proposal was sent by the Punjab Government for the third time to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation, where they had proposed that the airport should be called ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Chandigarh at Mohali’. The then Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, had objected to the use of the word Mohali in the name insisting that the airport has to be named with only reference to Chandigarh as it is the capital of both the states. It is an international airport being developed by two states in partnership with the Centre, an extension of the existing domestic airport in their common capital. However, the name hasn’t been finalised yet in the last seven years since the agreement was signed.

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