Residents protest against airport expansion plan

SHOWING ANGER: Residents of Pozhichalur staging a demonstration on Thursday against the State Government's proposal to acquire land for modernisation of the Chennai airport. Photo: A. Muralitharan  

Staff Reporter

Almost half of Pozhichalur panchayat's developed area is to be acquired

Residents say they were not informed of the Government's plans Say development policies are "unilateral" and "anti-people" Kancheepuram Collector assured them last year that they would not be affected

TAMBARAM: Residents of Pozhichalur staged a protest on Thursday expressing their anger against the State and Central Governments over the manner in which the decision was taken to identify 583 hectares of land for restructuring and modernisation of the Chennai airport.

They said the gathering was only the start of a series of protests they had planned against what they termed the "unilateral" and "anti-people" policies adopted by the Government in the name of development. The Land Plan Schedule showing the details of the villages covered under the proposed airport modernisation scheme revealed that almost half of Pozhichalur panchayat's developed area was to be acquired.

The residents wanted to know: `how come Pozhichalur, Anakaputhur and Pammal, all situated to the west of the airport, were included suddenly, when they were not part of the original proposal drawn up in 2000.' They said a letter from the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Limited to the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority in May 2005 had recalled the State Government's proposal to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in July 2000 about the International Airport Project and that the land requirement was about 2,000 acres in Manapakkam, Kolapakkam, Gerugambakkam, Tharapakkam, Tandalam, Kovur, Peripanacheri and Gowl Bazaar areas.

The same list was maintained until a few months ago, and in order to clear the confusion, the residents had approached the Kancheepuram Collector, who told them in August 2005 that there was no announcement from the State Government on acquiring land in Pozhichalur.

"If this was the case till six months ago, how could new places Cantonment Pallavaram, Anakaputhur and Pammal apart from Pozhichalur figure in the plan," asked members of the Federation of Pozhichalur Residents Welfare Associations.

They said the State Government's announcement of handing over vast areas of land free of cost to the Centre was made without taking into confidence those who would be affected. Such unilateral decisions went against all norms of democracy, the residents said.

They allege that the sudden inclusion of new places in the plan was part of a larger conspiracy to protect a small section of people with vested interests, mostly real estate dealers. The residents said they planned to start a society of all those in other villages who would be affected by the proposed land acquisition and vowed to "fight till the end."