Chennai

Parandur farmers fear airport may rob them of their livelihood

“Thousands of people like me can’t imagine living away from Ekanapuram. Where do we go? What will we do,” asks N. Balaraman, a 57-year-old farmer of the village.

While many in Chennai are excited about the upcoming airport, residents of Parandur and its neighbouring villages such as Ekanapuram, Meleri, Nagapattu, Nelvai and Thandalam are spending anxious days as their future looks uncertain.

Parandur is blessed with abundant groundwater and hence farmers do not want to relocate to make way for the airport.

Parandur is blessed with abundant groundwater and hence farmers do not want to relocate to make way for the airport. | Photo Credit: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

For people living here for generations, their only source of income is agriculture. And if their lands are taken away for airport, they do not know how they will eke out a living. The villages have passed resolutions registering their protest against the upcoming airport.

“Most of us here have been carrying on agriculture for generations. Now, if the government says it wants to take away our houses and land, we do not know what to do,” he says.

The residents are clueless about which property will be acquired for the airport as there has been no official communication. “There is so much of uncertainty. When they make such a big announcement, should not they at least inform us? We get to know all kinds of information only through the media,” he rues.

Farmers and residents of Ekanapuram submitted a petition to the Kancheepuram Collector recently. L. Ilango, a 44-year-old farmer in Ekanapuram, says there are many waterbodies and an airport here can have a devastating impact on the people and the environment. “People can easily ask us to just move to another village and start doing agriculture afresh. Nowhere else will farmers get groundwater so easily and in plenty. Life will become miserable for us,” he says.

Some farmers say they will move to another location only if they are allotted a parcel of land similar to the one they own now. Parandur has a population of about 5,000. Subramani, 60, says: “We do not want their compensation money as people will spend it in no time. Instead, farmers should be given land in another village so that we can continue farming.”

Parandur panchayat president K. Balaraman says: “While the upcoming airport has the potential to bring in a host of job prospects for the unemployed youth in our area, the agricultural lands should not be touched as it will kill the livelihood of people.”


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Printable version | Aug 22, 2022 5:14:40 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/parandur-farmers-fear-airport-may-rob-them-of-their-livelihood/article65771686.ece