Sunday, September 24, 2017

Skyhigh land cost grounded Sriperumbudur's airport dreams

Chennai: Rs 6,600 crores: that was the tab that the Tamil Nadu government would have had to pay under the new land acquisition act, if it were to go ahead with acquiring 2,200 acres of land at Sriperumbudur for the proposed greenfield airport. Little wonder then that the project was shelved, and the State and the Airports Authority of India began looking for other options.

Of the 3,000 acres that is required for the airport, the State government possessed all of 800 acres. As the project remained on paper for years, the advent of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Compensation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement) Act in 2013 made it way too costly an affair, an official source told Express. "As per the act, an acre of land would cost Rs 3 crore to the State exchequer. As a result, the project will be unviable due to land acquisition cost," said the source.

This has forced the State government to look at alternate sites as the existing facility in Chennai is getting saturated with passengers and aircraft. The hunt for greenfield airport started in 1999 when AAI and State government together decided to work towards developing a new international airport for Chennai. The Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) was tasked with identifying the land, and Scott Wilson Kirkpatric was appointed as technical consultant.

They identified five locations - Manapakkam-Gerugambakkam-Kolappakkam belt; West Tambaram; Maraimalai; Sriperumbudur and areas near Vandalur.

However, AAI preferred land near Pozichalur-Anakaputhur-Cowl Bazar, as it is contiguous and close to the existing airport. This option was later dropped and AAI chose two sites instead of one -- Manapakkam belt as well as Sriperumbudur - for reasons unclear. The GO was issued in 2007.
23/09/17 C Shivakumar/New Indian Express