Vijayawada: Around 150 paintings depicting Lord Buddha’s life story on plywood have been removed from the Vijayawada International Airport terminal.
According to sources, this decision was reportedly taken by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) after the Centre received complaints regarding the display of Buddhist paintings at the airport despite Vijayawada and Amaravati having famous Hindu shrines.
Around 400 paintings, including the Buddhist paintings and paintings depicting Amaravati’s culture and heritage, each five feet in height, were put up the airport in January 2016 based on Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s directions to district collector Babu A.
The Dalai Lama came to the airport around the time of its inauguration in February this year as part of his visit to Amaravati and was appreciative of the state government’s efforts to highlight the heritage of the region.
Now, all the paintings have been removed from the terminals. Airport director Madhusudana Rao said that there is no specific reason for the removal of the paintings, and added that the airport wanted to allot the space for commercial displays.
It was said the AAI and the Union ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) had received RTI applications wanting to know why Buddhist culture had been given more prominence than the Kanakadurga temple at Vijayawada and the Amaralingeswara Swamy temple of Amaravati.
Instead of replying, the AAI chose to issue oral directions to the airport to remove the paintings, and thus sparking a controversy.
Buddhist scholar Kathi Padma Rao said, “The CM should maintain an equilibrium by allowing paintings portraying the synchronisation of Buddhist and Andhra cultures to be displayed.”