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Skyhigh land cost grounded Sriperumbudur's airport dreams

AAI preferred land near Pozichalur-Anakaputhur-Cowl Bazar, as it is contiguous and close to the existing airport.

Published: 23rd September 2017 10:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd September 2017 10:44 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes (File | Reuters)

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  Rs 6,600 crores: that was the tab that the Tamil Nadu government would have had to pay under the new land acquisition act, if it were to go ahead with acquiring 2,200 acres of land at Sriperumbudur for the proposed greenfield airport. Little wonder then that the project was shelved, and the State and the Airports Authority of India began looking for other options.

Of the 3,000 acres that is required for the airport, the State government possessed all of 800 acres. As the project remained on paper for years, the advent of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Compensation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement) Act in 2013 made it way too costly an affair, an official source told Express. "As per the act, an acre of land would cost Rs 3 crore to the State exchequer. As a result, the project will be unviable due to land acquisition cost," said the source.

This has forced the State government to look at alternate sites as the existing facility in Chennai is getting saturated with passengers and aircraft. The hunt for greenfield airport started in 1999 when AAI and State government together decided to work towards developing a new international airport for Chennai. The Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) was tasked with identifying the land, and Scott Wilson Kirkpatric was appointed as technical consultant.

They identified five locations - Manapakkam-Gerugambakkam-Kolappakkam belt; West Tambaram; Maraimalai; Sriperumbudur and areas near Vandalur.

However, AAI preferred land near Pozichalur-Anakaputhur-Cowl Bazar, as it is contiguous and close to the existing airport. This option was later dropped and AAI chose two sites instead of one -- Manapakkam belt as well as Sriperumbudur - for reasons unclear. The GO was issued in 2007.

However, seventeen years after paying a huge amount to consultants, including International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the greenfield airport project has yet to be realised. Sources say there is a glimmer of hope as the Centre is showing keen interest in implementing the project. It is learnt that the new proposed airport could be at a radius of 50 km from Chennai, likely to cater only to international aircraft.

To a query on whether a greenfield airport could be set up at Manapakkam, Chennai Airport director G Chandramouli said it was not viable due to connectivity issues.

Hosur Airport likely to get nod:

Hosur airport, which was initially selected under the first phase of Regional Connectivity Scheme, may get the green signal to operate flights.

As per existing agreement, no other airport will be allowed to operate within 150km radius from Bengaluru airport. "Hosur comes within this, and would require no-objection certificate from Bengaluru airport," Chandramouli said.

Inline Baggage Screening at domestic airport from March 2018 Passengers in Chennai's domestic airport will no longer have to queue up before the X-ray machines to have their baggage scanned, as it will be replaced by inline baggage screening facility from next year.

Speaking during the launch of golden jubilee celebrations of Public Relations Society of India, Chennai Airport director G Chandramouli said Inline baggage screening facility will be launched from March 2018.

The facility is already available at the international terminal of the Chennai airport.

In this facility, travellers can go straight to the airline's check-in counter and drop their baggage on the belt. Scanning happens in several stages even as each piece of baggage travels on the conveyor belt to the hub from where it will go into the belly of the aircraft.



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