Punjab, Haryana agree on naming Chandigarh airport after Bhagat Singh

Chandigarh, March 2 (IANS) After fighting over the naming of the international airport at Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana have finally agreed to name it after Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Punjab unit president Kamal Sharma, who mediated between the two state governments on this issue, said on Wednesday that a consensus had been arrived at between Punjab and Haryana over the airport’s name.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has agreed to name the airport after Shaheed Bhagat Singh, he said.

In a letter to union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma, the BJP leader urged for naming of the airport before March 23, the martyrdom day of the legendary freedom fighter, a Punjab BJP statement said here.

The civil air terminal at Chandigarh airport was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 11 last year.

Both states earlier agreed to it being named after Bhagat Singh, but later the BJP government led by Khattar, which assumed office in October 2014, wrote to the civil aviation ministry to name the airport after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Mangal Sein.

An upset Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal wrote an angry letter to Modi in December 2015, terming the (Khattar) move as “distasteful”.

Mahesh Sharma last year told parliament that the naming of the airport was delayed as the Punjab and Haryana governments had not agreed to one name.

Facing criticism, Khattar clarified that his government had no objection to the airport’s naming after Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

“When the matter was discussed with us, the name (of Bhagat Singh) had not been finalised. Since no name was finalised, we proposed the name of Dr Mangal Sein through a letter. Even if they keep Bhagat Singh’s name, we have no objection to it,” Khattar said.

“It (airport) can be named after Bhagat Singh. But they (central government) must ensure that the airport contains the word ‘Chandigarh’ and nothing else,” Khattar said.

The airport’s terminal building is actually in Punjab’s Mohali town and the Punjab government has put up signages of ‘Mohali airport’. This has upset the Haryana government.

The assemblies of Punjab and Haryana had, in 2009 and 2010 respectively, passed resolutions for naming the airport after martyr Bhagat Singh. Both states have a 24.5 percent stake each in the airport terminal project.

Mangal Sein was a deputy chief minister of Haryana briefly in the late 1970s, a seven-time legislator and Haryana BJP president.

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