Sabarimala airport proposal faulty, says DGCA

The DGCA said Sabarimala airport’s proposed site is approximately 88km and 110km from the Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram airports, which does not meet the requirements of Greenfield Airports Policy

September 20, 2021 04:34 pm | Updated 05:24 pm IST - KOTTAYAM

File Photo of an airport | DGCA came down heavily on the techno-economic feasibility report prepared by Louis Berger, a private consultant.

File Photo of an airport | DGCA came down heavily on the techno-economic feasibility report prepared by Louis Berger, a private consultant.

The proposed construction of a Greenfield airport on the Cheruvalli estate near Erumeli, Kottayam appears to have hit turbulence with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) finding fault with its design and techno-economic feasibility report.

According to a report by the regulatory body, the site-clearance approval sought for the greenfield airport is not in tune with the Greenfield Airports Policy. “The proposed site has an aerial distance of approximately 88 km and 110 km from the Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram airports, respectively. Whereas according to para 8.1 of Greenfield Airports Policy, no greenfield airport would be allowed within an aerial distance of 150 km of an existing civilian airport,” the report read.

The agency also came down heavily on the techno-economic feasibility report prepared by Louis Berger, a private consultant, stating that the report seems not reliable. “The appended map/charts to get the site clearance approval is not signed or authenticated by the surveyor and the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation [KSIDC], the nodal agency for the proposed project, respectively, as the content of documents varies at various places,” it added.

The DGCA took special notice of a disclaimer given on Louis Berger report, which stated that “any reliance on this report by any third party or external agency shall be solely at their risk and cost, with no obligation/liability on part of Louis Berger. No representation or warranty is given as to the reasonableness of forecasts or the assumption on which they may be based and nothing in this report is or should be relied on as a promise, representation or warranty”.

The three-page report by the DGCA also carries adverse remarks on the space marked for the preparation of the 2,700-meter-long runway. In the absence of adequate length and width, a tabletop runway will have to be constructed on the lines of Mangalore and Kozhikode airports, it noted.

Commenting on the issue, Pathanamthitta MP Anto Antony said steps would be taken to address the concerns raised by the DGCA at the earliest. “As far as the Central Travancore is concerned, this is a dream project as the region contributes nearly 30% of the total passenger flow through the airports in Kerala,” he noted.

Recently, the Kerala High Court had set aside a State government directive to the Kottayam district collector to deposit the compensation amount before the land acquisition authority for taking over the Cheruvalli Estate for the airport. A total of 2,263.18 acres need to be acquired for the project to be developed in two phases.

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