The Hindu Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah in Jaipur on Saturday. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday laid the foundation stone for a new airport at Kishangarh and an underground corridor of the Jaipur Metro. In the morning, Dr. Singh laid the foundation stone for the new airport at Kishangarh, near Ajmer, the first in a series of airports to be developed in smaller cities across the country. “Usually in our country, airports have been considered a convenience for the rich but now air connectivity has become a prerequisite for development,” he said. Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva presided over the ceremony. “Developing the basic infrastructure for airports has been a priority of the Union Government...while initially the stress was on developing big airports in the metros...now an ambitious scheme of establishing a network of airports in the smaller cities is being implemented,” said the Prime Minister. “Kishangarh airport is the first such project...and I hope the people of Rajasthan will see several such airports in the coming years,” he said. Dr. Singh congratulated his Cabinet colleague and Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh; the Airports Authority of India; Ajmer MP Sachin Pilot; and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot for making the project a reality. “Rajasthan attracts tourists from all over the world...for its rich cultural heritage...while this region has been connected by road and rail, the need for air connectivity had been felt here,” he said. The new airport, he said, would provide a boost to tourism, business and pilgrimages in the Ajmer region. The Prime Minister said over the past 10 years, the country had witnessed an increase in airports as well as air-travellers, with 16 crore people travelling by air last year. This number was expected to touch 30 crore by the end of 2020, he said. Addressing the gathering, Mr. Gehlot said Rajasthan was witnessing all-round development, citing examples from the fields of education and public transport. Later in the afternoon, Dr. Singh laid the foundation stone for Phase-1B of the Jaipur Metro.