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Identification of land for Coimbatore airport expansion under way

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Avoiding houses: Process for identifying land for expansion of Coimbatore Airport has begun. —
Avoiding houses: Process for identifying land for expansion of Coimbatore Airport has begun. —

V.S. Palaniappan

Vacant sites along runway preferred

Coimbatore: The Airport Authority of India (AAI) and the district administration are on the job of identifying vacant lands for acquisition for the proposed Coimbatore Airport expansion. The move is aimed at avoiding take over of residential areas around the airport.

The authorities pointed out that the Central and State Governments were clear that any proposal for acquisition should not cause trouble to the residents. The airport expansion plan involved two components i.e., the expansion of the runway from the present 8,700 ft to 12,500 ft, and acquisition of lands for the construction of another terminal building.

Given the runway alignment and technical feasibility, the authorities had no other option but to proceed with the original plan of extending the runway in the existing alignment towards the southern side. They pointed out that the acquisition involved disturbance to only a few house owners and a few defunct industrial units. Acquisition under block IV scheme was in the final stage.

Since the original plan for acquisition of land along the Avanashi Road in Kalapatti village caused panic among the residents, the authorities had altered the plans. They are now identifying more vacant lands along the runway to minimise acquisition of land with dwelling units.

The AAI was also trying to minimise the extent of land required for the terminal building.

The earlier plan would have spelt a threat to 650 houses; but as per the revised plan, only 80 to 90 houses would be affected, sources added. Given the small number of houses involved, the landowners would be adequately compensated as per the provisions in the Land Acquisition Act. The authorities accused real estate groups of bringing down land prices by spreading rumours that all the houses in the area would be demolished.

Authorities pointed out that the entire project cost would shoot up to Rs 750 crore. Such a huge financial pressure may even delay the project. In addition, such a proposal would increase the distance of the airport from the city by another 10 to 15 km.

Meanwhile, the authorities have appealed to the residents not to panic. Public co-operation was of paramount importance in such issues and a survey alone could indicate the exact area required for the purpose, they said.

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