Friday, October 07, 2022

Chennai’s second airport at Parandur will be an ecological disaster, say activists

Poovulagin Nanbargal, a Tamil Nadu-based environmental protection organisation has warned the state government of an ecological disaster, if it goes ahead with the construction of the airport in Parandur. The group released a seven-page report on October 7, 2022, against the state government's plans to construct a second airport for Chennai and alleged that the democratic rights of Parandur’s residents are being eroded. The report makes several grave allegations of state abuses from being highly monitored by the police to denial of the right to protest.

The report states, “Government schemes are implemented in the name of the people. The Constitution of India grants people the right to reject the scheme and fight against it. But the Tamil Nadu government is denying those rights to the people.” The site for the second airport was announced on August 1, 2022, by the Minister of State for Civil Aviation Vijay Kumar Singh, after years of speculation. Residents of Parandur told TNM in the days following the announcement that they had received no warning that they stood to lose their agricultural lands. They found out about the second airport only through news channels. With continued bureaucratic apathy, protests increased from residents of Eganapuram, Nagapattu and Parandur villages. Since the area is primarily made up of wetlands, ecologists worry that the construction of an airport will lead to flooding and loss of natural habitats. 

Poovulagin’s report makes a reference to a Tamil movie on ecological disaster in its title, implying that Parandur would become an ecological disaster like the fictional village of Athipatti in the film Citizen.

Around 1,317 acres of land of 4,563.56 acres to be acquired for Parandur airport are classified as porambokku (wasteland), the report says. It further adds that out of this 1,317 acres, nearly 955 acres are covered by lakes, ponds and small water bodies. The remaining 390 acres are grazing land. If the proposed airport is built, it will obstruct the flow of the 43 kilometre-long Kamban canal which fills nearly 85 lakes before emptying into the Sriperumbudur lake.

It is to be noted that 13 villages earmarked for Chennai's second airport are located in both the Walajabad block and Sriperumbudur block of the Kanchipuram district. The canal crosses through many villages in both these blocks including Parandur, Eganapuram, Maduramangalam and Thandalam. It is also worth noting that obstructing the canal will have a wider range of impact as nearly 22,235 acres of agricultural land are watered by the Kamban canal. 

07/10/22 News Minute

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