Saturday, July 02, 2022

Revised feasibility report on Sabarimala airport submitted to Union ministry

 In a major development, the state government has submitted a revised design and techno-economic feasibility report on the proposed Sabarimala Greenfield International Airport project in Erumeli to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The new report has been submitted as the earlier report prepared by Louis Berger, a private agency appointed by KSIDC, was rejected by DGCA citing technical faults. According to authorities, the new report was prepared by the same agency correcting the faults pointed out by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

“The new report predominantly focuses on the length and orientation of the runway. In the new report, which was prepared after conducting a topographical survey and the runway-specific Obstacle Limitation Surface Survey (OLS), the length of the runway has been extended from 2.7 km to 3.5 km.

Moreover, changes have been made in its orientation as well,” said V Thulasidas, special officer of the airport project. The report also includes details such as the need for an airport, expected passenger traffic, and financial viability of the project. “Though Sabarimala pilgrims will be the main beneficiaries of the project, a good number of passengers will be non-resident Indians from Central Travancore, especially people in Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts, who work in Europe and the US.

Taking into account the proximity to major tourism destinations like Kumarakom, Munnar, Thekkady and other small tourist centres, there will be a sound passenger traffic once the project is completed,” Thulasidas added.

The officer also played down the issues cited by the DGCA with regard to the aerial distance between airports as per Greenfield Airports Policy. The site identified by the government for the project in Erumeli has an aerial distance of approximately 88 km and 110 km from the Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram airports respectively. However, as per existing policy, greenfield airport can’t be allowed within an aerial distance of 150 km of an existing civilian airport.

“Airport projects are usually sanctioned taking into account their requirement in a particular place. The rules were relaxed while sanctioning the second airport in Delhi and Mumbai. Similar is the case of Kannur airport. We hope aerial distance won’t be an issue in the case of Sabarimala as well,” he said.

02/07/22 Abhilash Chandran/New Indian Express

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