The extent of land to be acquired for the expansion of the Coimbatore Airport has been substantially brought down, District Collector P. Umanath said here on Tuesday.

Talking to reporters, Dr. Umanath said that on examining the Airport Authority of India's demand for 848 acres, the State Government found that such a massive expansion was not feasible in many populated areas. The Government, after talks, reduced it by 170 acres and after further scrutiny, brought it down to 613 acres. Four-hundred and twenty-four acres of that alone would be patta land. One-hundred and thirty-six acres belong to Central and State Governments and 52 acres are occupied by the Airport on lease. Of the 424 acres, large portion was unused vacant land and some were farms.

At present the airport is spread over 444 acres with a runway of 9,900 ft. The proposal is to extend it to 12,000 ft for landing and taking off of wide-bodied and fat-bellied aircraft.

Dr. Umanath said that the district administration had convinced the Airport authorities to shift some of the proposed facilities, planned in populated areas, to the uninhabited areas to reduce the impact.

One such relocated facility was the VHF Omni Directional Range (VOMR), originally planned on 100 acres on the thickly populated side.

The final revised plan had excluded nearly 65 acres and nearly 400 houses from acquisition and demolition. What could not be averted was the 950 m of land, eight to ten acres, accommodating 100 buildings, because the airport authority wanted the 950 m for the flight pathway approach threshold.

Under the original plan 814 buildings, including two industrial and two school structures, faced the threat of demolition.

Now 397 buildings, including one industrial building and two school buildings, have been sparred. Only 417 would now be demolished. Classifying the threat to buildings in villages, Collector said 71 buildings in Irugur, 100 in Uppilipalayam, nine in Singanallur and 236 in Kalapatti would be demolished. Originally, the threat was there for more buildings in Irugur and Kalapatti and they had been substantially brought down.

On the compensation for lands acquired and the buildings to be demolished, Dr.Umanath said that sale data was being gathered for the lands in the area in recent times.

Based on that, land value would be fixed reasonably. The value for the buildings would be arrived at based on their age and depreciation. In addition to the final value, an additional 30 per cent would also be given as extra compensation. For carrying out all the formalities, a proposal had been sent to the Government for sanctioning a post of DRO, as done in the case of land acquisition for widening the Chengapalli – Walayar stretch of NH 47.

The process was expected to start shortly and the Airport authorities had planned to complete the airport expansion and modernisation in 24 months from the date of completion of land acquisition. As part of the expansion, the terminal building would come up on the other side of the airport land, just opposite to the existing terminal building. The approach road for the airport would be from Avanashi Road near the bypass road and an additional approach road would be laid from SIHS colony along the existing airport compound.

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