Five sites identified for new airport

December 22, 2016 06:35 pm | Updated December 23, 2016 08:46 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:

Five sites have been shortlisted in Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts for a Rs.2,500-crore greenfield international airport to be developed by a joint venture of Non-Resident Indians.

Close on the heels of abandoning the controversial airport project at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district, the New-Delhi-based Global Indian Association (GIA), a non-political organisation working for the welfare of NRIs, has approached the State government seeking in-principle approval for the aeropolis. The GIA has floated a company, Indo-Heritage International Aeropolis Pvt. Ltd., for executing the project and opened its office in Pathanamthitta.

The site selection report of the AECOM, global provider of technical and support services to airport owners, investors and aviation clients, has been submitted to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The U.S.-based AECOM is the technical consultant for Kannur International Airport.

Kootickal (10 km form Konni), Cheruvally estate (2.5 km from Theni-Kottarakara highway and close to Erumeli town), Laha estate, Malayalapuzha-Kumbzha estate (three km from Pathanamthitta Central Junction) and Kalleli are the sites identified after studies.

Of the five sites, the AECOM has concluded that the Cheruvelly estate is the “most preferred location” and the Laha estate comes next. Situated on way to Sabarimala and 136 km from the State capital, the site consists of about 2,268 acres of vast stretches of plain land.

No man-made obstacles

“The vegetation comprises a large number of rubber plants and no man-made obstacles were observed at the site and its vicinity,” the AECOM said. The highest elevation of the site is 220 m and lowest 60 m. The AECOM has found that the Laha estate has severe undulating topographical features.

In the case of the Kumbuzha estate, it has been found that hills surrounding the site are a hazard for landing and take-off of aircraft. Similar problems prevail in the Kalleli estate. The problems in the Laha estate can be sorted by repositioning the runway.

Rajeev Joseph, international president of the GIA, in a letter to the Chief Minister, said ‘‘they are very particular in protecting and promoting the ecology, culture, heritage, and social system.’’ The GIA said it had commenced discussions with all political leaders and all sections of people in Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts to seek their cooperation.

The government has been asked to take a decision on the sites recommended to enable the AECOM to carry out the next phase of the prefeasibility study. The GIA also expressed its readiness to mobilise the Rs.2,500 crore needed for the airport if the government made available the land. In case there are hitches, the GIA said the company floated by it was ready to procure land and take up construction of the greenfield airport.

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