Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to set up an airport in Puri for promotion of tourism in the state.
The state government has identified land for the proposed Sri Jagannath International Airport in the coastal town, he said.
Patnaik said the Rath Yatra of Puri is a famous annual event, attracting lakhs of pilgrims from across the world and an airport in the town will help bring devotees to the Sri Jagannath Temple.
"The Holy city of Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath, is among the Char Dhams of Hindu Dharma. Hindus from all over the world visit Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri. The holy Rath Yatra is celebrated across 192 countries.
"The proposed airport will help bring Jagannath devotees from across the world," Patnaik said in the letter.
He also mentioned that the Sun Temple of Konark, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is just 35-km away from Puri and the Ramachandi-Chandrabhaga beach provides a unique experience to travellers.
Most of the historic Buddhist heritage sites like Dhauli and Ratnagiri, with a travel time of about three hours from Puri, attract national and international tourists.
Puri is also linked to two Ramsar sites - Chilka Lake on one side and Bhitarkanika National Park on the other. Both these locations have huge potential for international eco-tourism, he said.
"Therefore, I request that the Ministry of Civil Aviation may be asked to take up this airport as a priority project.
"The state government has identified land at Puri for the proposed airport and will proactively support the activities required for establishing the airport in a record time," Patnaik said.
The long coastline and the bay area near Puri are ideal locations for promoting new world economic activities, leisure and hospitality, health and spiritual centres, the chief minister said.
"We believe that Puri has potential to become a hub for spiritual, tourism and economic activities," Patnaik added.