Gaya, May 21: Highly regarded as a simple and soft-spoken man, the new chief minister, Jitan Ram Manjhi, has now raised expectations among the people in the twin towns of Gaya and Bodhgaya in particular and throughout the district in general.
Extension of the Gaya airport runway so that regular flights could be operated from here, development of Vishnupad temple area and the Bodhgaya city on a par with international standard to increase pilgrim and the tourist inflow, civic amenities like regular power and water supply and cleanliness besides, review of the schemes over which already crores of rupees have been spent are some of the issues towards which people here want to draw the attention of their chief minister.
Above all, it is a general feeling that hailing from Gaya, Jitan is aware of local requirements and problems.
Mahesh Guput, a senior Gayapal panda, said many pilgrims enquire about air connectivity with Gaya from their respective places so that train journey time is saved. “There should be regular domestic flights connecting Gaya with other major cities that would certainly increase pilgrim inflow. The entire Gayapal panda samaj is hopeful that the 17-day Pitripaksh in September will have better arrangements this year. Local residents as well as pilgrims and the tourists visiting Gaya and Bodhgaya should have the feeling that it is the hometown of the chief minister,” Guput added.
Suresh Singh, general secretary, Nagarik Vikas Manch, Bodhgaya, said the long-pending proposal for extension of the Gaya airport runway should be implemented.
“To ensure that tourists stay in Bodhgaya, there is a need for construction of a meditation park, botanical garden, convention centre, indoor stadium and a Buddhist medical college and hospital. Former chief minister Nitish Kumar made Nalanda an educational hub and our new chief minister should make Bodhgaya a medical tourism hub by opening Buddhist medical college and hospital here,” Suresh said.
Of around 28 Buddhist countries only three — Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar — have air connectivity with Gaya.
“After runway extension, the airport will have not only more international connectivity but domestic flights could also be started from here,” said Pintu Kumar. Lobsang Yashi Artha, a Buddhist, echoed similar sentiments.
The Gaya airport runway extension is delayed as villagers of Bishunganj are not ready to hand over their land plots at the rate offered by the state government.
Ranjit Kushwaha, a farmer of village Bishunganj said there was a proposal passed by the Centre that a landowner could get four times than the market price in case of land acquisition. “We hope from our new chief minister that he would resolve the issue by making arrangement for adequate compensation to farmers,” Ranjit said.