Initiative aims at augmenting air surveillance along the coast

The Indian Navy, the Indian Air Force (IAF), and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will set up separate defence enclaves on the campus of the upcoming 800-hectare Kannur airport to augment air surveillance along the coast.

Land will be provided by Kannur International Airport Ltd. (KIAL), the fourth international airport in the State coming up in the Keezhallur panchayat and the Mattannur municipality at an estimated cost of Rs.1,542 crore.

Each of the services will get four hectares of land on long-term lease, against a token rent. The land identified is besides the operational apron of the airport and the enclaves will have taxi link to the 3400-metre runway.

The area for the enclave had been notified in the master plan of the airport. Defence officials had given the nod in view of the strategic location of the proposed airport and proximity to the coast.

KIAL and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) were in the last stages of talks regarding the terms and conditions of setting up the Naval Air Enclave, official sources told The Hindu. The KIAL board had approved the proposal to give land to the Navy.

The ICG had sought eight hectares and the board had authorised the airport Managing Director to provide four hectares.

A lease agreement would be signed with the forces once the formalities were completed. The land would be handed over once the ongoing earth work, using 200 earth movers and 500 personnel, got over, sources said.

The services would take up work on the hangars and administrative buildings at the enclaves. The air assets would help augment coastal security by way of constant aerial surveillance using maritime reconnaissance aircraft. The proximity of the Indian Naval Academy (INA) at Ezhimala was another reason why the Navy was keen to set up an enclave at the airport.

Coming up on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis, the greenfield airport would be set up on a build, own, operate (BOO) model. The airport would be operational by December 2015.

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