Puttaparthi’s white elephant airport plea
Posted by robertpriddy on June 1, 2016
Direct flight to Puttaparthi sought The Hindu May 31, 2016
“The Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry Federation on Monday wrote to the Chairman of the Airports Authority of India, emphasising the need for direct flight service between Vijayawada and Puttaparthi. Federation executive director P. Bhaskar Rao in the letter mentioned that Puttaparthi is world famous for its association with Sri Sathya Sai Baba and every year, millions of devotees throng the town which has an airport.”
Comment: “Millions of devotees throng Puttaparthi every year”? Indeed, that is a truly vast overstatement. Though the Sai propaganda machine frequently boasted of millions of visitors to the birthdays, it has been proven quite impossible. The entire ashram and village could not accommodate more than maximum 500,000 even for a day. The birthdays where there were most visitors only just filled the Hillview stadium, which has a capacity of maximum 300,000 when jam-packed, according to the ashram engineer. But since Sai Baba died in 2011 the numbers have shrunk to a tiny fraction of the former numbers, and the movement split into warring factions, the larger segment moving to Muddenahalli which is far from Puttaparthi.
“Mr. Rao said Anantapur district has potential for development as it is located close to Chennai and Bengaluru. He said Vijayawada and Anantapur are not well connected by road, travel time is around 11 hours. Having a direct flight would help the increasing number air passengers between these two places who are now using the Bengaluru airport, he added.”
The traffic at Puttaparthi airport in its heyday was absolutely minimal, and then only around festival times. A regular weekly flight had soon to be discontinued. To restart when the use was so minimal even at big festivals is an absurdity, as is the hope it would increase traffic between Chennai and Bangalore! Already in 2007, the Central Trust tried to sell the airport off, but there have been no bidders. (See Sathya Sai Airport “white elephant” for sale!) The airport itself was a result of illegal operations by Mr. Kaw, a devotee who was Secretary for India’s Airport Authority at the time. It was all paid for by the government and donated to Sai Baba! See http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/16/Ramnath_Mr_Kaw.html
Puttaparthi was indeed famous for Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and the world now knows that he was a sexual abuser also involved in the execution of four devotees in 1993, besides numerous cover-ups of massive corruption and bribery. Since his crimes and scams were exposed from 2000 onwards, his following and organisation have been reduced to relative peanuts. No surprise that the pie in the sky ideas to make Parthi more popular as a tourist attraction, even restart flights, is falling on deaf ears. How can the devotees continue thinking that Sathya Sai Baba was who he said he was? Making excuses for all the outlandish, unfulfilled predictions? Ah, the power of faith and delusion! Human nature, creating a more idealistic world inside their heads, where they are the chosen ones!