Residents of Kolapakkam that abuts the western end of the extended secondary runway of Chennai airport want answers from airport authorities.
They are up in arms against the proposal of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to acquire more land for the secondary runway. A year after its completion, the extended runway is yet to be operational.
AAI cites problems over land acquisition near Kolapakkam and nearby areas as one of the reasons for the delay. But what does AAI propose to do with additional land at this stage, residents demand to know.
In yet another attempt to protect their land, a section of residents of Kolapakkam met L. Sitherasenan, district collector of Kancheepuram, on Friday morning.
“The AAI has done well by abandoning its earlier plan of creating a runway parallel to the existing primary runway, thereby avoiding acquisition of land in residential localities. The plan for extension of the secondary runway was intended to avoid any damage to property. But now, why does AAI want to acquire land when there is absolutely no necessity for it?” said Mani, a pensioner, who moved here more than a decade ago, from Mylapore.
According to him, a few hundred families in Kolapakkam have been in agony in the recent past, especially after announcements that a further patch of land would be required to extend the already-extended secondary runway.
“There is a proposal pending with the State government to build a greenfield airport near Sriperumbudur. The existing primary runway at Chennai airport is big enough to handle wide-bodied aircraft. The secondary runway could have been improved just enough to reduce waiting time of flights,” said R.J. David, a resident of Maxworth Nagar.
Residents of Maxworth Nagar, who prepared an elaborate presentation of some visible goof-ups in the runway extension project, said none of the ground work — be it identifying and surveying the land needed or even presenting the basic objective — was ever presented clearly to them, by any agency in charge of the project.
The residents had, at various stages, presented their grievances to the government — the Kancheepuram district administration and the Chief Minister’s cell — with facts backing their claims, a representative said.
According to Mr. David, it was time the AAI dropped its insistence of acquiring further land and save more than 100 families from losing their property. It should also commence operation on the extended secondary runway without further delay, he said.