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Airstrip of historical significance encroached upon, likely to be sold

Staff Correspondent
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Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's aircraft landed there in 1951

The airstrip at Ginigera village near Koppal town was developed during the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad.
The airstrip at Ginigera village near Koppal town was developed during the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

An airstrip at Ginigera village near Koppal town where Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had landed when he had come to attend a programme to inaugurate the Tungabhadra Dam in 1951, has now lost its importance. The Government has been trying to sell a major portion of the airstrip to an industrialist for setting up a cement factory.

Recently, UltraTech Cement Ltd., which had submitted a proposal to the government seeking 14 acres of land that is part of the airstrip, has allegedly encroached upon 10.33 acres of land. But neither the government nor the district administration has initiated any action to clear the encroachment.

The Koppal district administration, which earlier had opposed sale of land that is part of the airstrip facility, is said to have recommended the government for allotment of 2.5 acres of land to the cement company. Opposing the recommendation of the district administration, Member of Parliament representing Koppal Shivaramegouda has written to Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda urging him not to sell any land belonging to the airstrip facility and take steps to develop it so that tourism can be promoted in the district.

According to historians, the airstrip was developed during the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

The Nizam acquired 36.7 acres of land near Ginigera from 15 farmers of Kanakapura and Ginigera villages, and developed an airstrip there at a cost of Rs. 34,100. Later he spent Rs. 49,000 to develop it further.

Later, the farmers who gave up their land for compensation of Rs. 400 per acre, approached the court seeking higher compensation. However, the verdict was in the government's favour.The airstrip at Ginigera is the only facility for small aircraft and planes in the entire district and needs to be developed further in order to promote tourism as the district has many historical places like Hampi, and Kishkinda, Kanakagiri and Itagi and Anegondi, the original seat of the erstwhile Vijayanagar Empire.

However, the government has decided to sell the land around the airstrip for industrial activities forgetting its historical importance.

In a letter to the Governor, Mr. Shivaramegouda has urged him to initiate action to recover the encroached land in and around the airstrip and take action to develop it for promoting tourism in the district.

He has also written to the Chief Secretary asking him to take immediate action to protect the airstrip and develop it. Many social organisations, who have decided to file a PIL, have warned the government that they would mobilise people.



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