The blatant refusal of the Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia to upgrade the status of Madurai airport as an international airport was a rude shock and thoroughly disappointing to the people of southern Tamil Nadu, said T.N. Agrofood Chamber of Commerce & Industry president S. Rethinavelu here on December 23.
Speaking to The Hindu, he said, there was absolutely no logic in the reason given by him for the refusal that Tamil Nadu cannot claim the fourth international airport while some of the northern States are having only one.
Provision of infrastructure was need based and not sugar candy distributed equally to the children in a classroom. The State was leading the chart of the most industrialised States in the country. The GST contribution of Tamil Nadu was higher than many States and Union territories.
Madurai and many southern districts are blessed with agricultural or horticultural crops. Vegetables, fruits and processed food products are being exported. So, we need more international connectivity from Madurai airport. There was a good scope for tourism and medical tourism in south Tamil Nadu.
While Tirupathi and Varanasi airports were declared as international airport on the ground of pilgrimage centre, despite both the airports having very much less international passengers when compared to Madurai, why not the most popular pilgrimage centre Madurai, with Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple, not similarly recognised, he asked.
“Hence, it is crystal clear that the denial of Civil Aviation Minister to upgrade Madurai airport as International was against the development of the districts of southern and south central districts of Tamil Nadu in which we are having one third of the population of Tamil Nadu,” he said. When Kerala, with only one third GST contribution of Tamil Nadu, has four international airports, what was the difficulty for the Civil Aviation Ministry to declare Madurai as the 4th International airport of Tamil Nadu, he asked.
During pre-pandemic year - 2019-20 - Madurai airport had handled 3.49 lakh international passengers, which was the highest among the 10 Customs airports in the country. Among the 27 International airports, 10 have handled international passengers lesser than Madurai airport.
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin should take up the issue with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in order to make southern districts industrially and economically vibrant, Mr. Rethinavelu said.