Plan to acquire 8 hectares near Chakka; action council says 600 families will have to be evicted for it

With the State government initiating steps to acquire eight hectares of land for constructing a domestic terminal adjacent to the international terminal on the city side, the residents are up in arms against land acquisition and shifting of the existing terminal from the Shanghumughom side.

The Chief Secretary’s directive to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to submit the plan for acquiring land has brought the Vallakkadavu-Vayyamoola Joint Action Council, an umbrella organisation of 26 residents’ associations, councillors and socio-political and religious groups, to the agitation path.

The eight hectares is part of the 32.8 hectares of land sought by the AAI to set up the domestic terminal and ancillary facilities. The terminal, adjacent to the international terminal complex that had come up on the Chakka side, was part of the third and final phase of the master plan conceived by the AAI in the 1990s. But, the opposition from the residents had forced the AAI to take up work on the international terminal only.

At present, international operations are being carried out from the new terminal and domestic operations from the old international terminal, which was refurbished. The action council has announced that they will fight tooth and nail to prevent land acquisition and against the shifting of the domestic terminal.

To seek intervention

Council chairman A. Saifudeen Haji and convener N. Vikaraman Nair said they would meet Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor and Minister for Health V.S. Sivakumar and others on Monday seeking their intervention in the issue as 600 families would be affected.

The council leaders pointed out that a high-power committee headed by Mr. Chandy had on December 24, 2012, abandoned the move to acquire land and shift the terminal.

The council has decided to take out a march to the venue of the meeting of the reconstituted Airport Advisory Committee this week.

The council representatives said nearly 800 families were evicted for airport development over the years and the residents could not afford another eviction. There was no justification in shifting the terminal, they said.

AAI stand

The AAI sources told The Hindu that as the two terminals were at different places, it was creating problems for airlines and passengers. A domestic terminal adjacent to the new international would benefit passengers as it was close to the NH bypass and city. It would facilitate easier operations for the airlines and help Aviation Security Group of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to save money. The CISF had to post 60 additional personnel as the two terminals were on different places, incurring an additional expense of Rs.60 lakh a month.

An airline company decided not to operate to the city as it would not be able to operate domestic and international flights from the same terminal, they said.