A year after its extension was completed, the secondary runway at Chennai airport is yet to take off
It is the first-of-its-kind in the country but the runway across Adyar river is far from becoming operational.
A year after completion of work, the extended secondary runway, a portion of which runs over a bridge across the Adyar, is yet to be functional.
The runway is expected to help meet the increasing air traffic that Chennai airport handles but to date, nobody seems to have a clue when it will be opened.
Proposed in 2005
A note from Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA U.O. Note No. R1/1363/2006) circulated among local bodies in 2006 spoke of a land plan schedule for areas to be ‘covered under the proposed airport restructuring and modernisation’ project.
The proposal included, among other things, creation of a new runway parallel to the existing one and diagonal to the secondary runway, and also re-routing a sizeable length of the Adyar river to make way for the same.
Incidentally, in 2005, prior to the CMDA note, the transport department passed an order that said the State government would hand over nearly 600 acres on the northern side of the existing airport for creation of the new runway, as per a plan received from Airports Authority of India.
After The Hindu wrote about AAI’s plans to acquire land over 600 acres in Anakaputhur, Pammal, Pozhichalur and Gowl Bazaar areas by demolishing thousands of residential settlements, it resulted in a prolonged people’s movement with support from various political parties. The government dropped the proposal and decided to expand the secondary runway instead.
Extension of runway
The Chennai airport has two runways — the primary one that runs parallel to GST Road, and the secondary one that runs perpendicular to it.
In 2009, the secondary runway was closed for extension from 2,035 metres to 3,400 metres. A part of it would run across the Adyar river via a bridge.
The estimated cost of the project was pegged at nearly Rs. 450 crore, with the bridge alone costing around Rs. 225 crore, according to an airport official.
Work on the runway extension began in 2009 and it was to be operational by end of 2011. A year after the deadline, there are no signs of the runway becoming operational in the near future despite completion of work.
While airport authorities blame the delay on a number of factors, including land acquisition, residents of Kolapakkam, the area that abuts the western end of the extended runway, claim otherwise.