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Nov 30, 2007

Hardles for Coimbatore airport expansion

The People’s Protection Movement, an association of residents’ living near the Peelamedu airport, have appealed to the Chief Minister to drop the proposed move for acquiring residential lands for airport expansion.The secretary of the Movement in a memorandum to the Chief Minister has pointed out that the Airport Authority should stick to its earlier plans for expansion without dislocating the existing houses and industrial units. In the event of requirement of land, the authorities should identify lands where there were no houses or industrial units.

The lands proposed for acquisition would spell disaster to 2,000 houses, 15 textile units, over 50 industrial units, two schools besides directly and indirectly affecting more than 10,000 residential dwelling units. The areas to be affected include Chinniampalayam, Irugur, Kalapatti and Neelambur. Continuing media reports and official versions on the airport expansion had only affected the peace causing mental agony to the residents of the area. The expansion and the proposed acquisition would result in dislocation of hundreds of middle income group families, who had spent their lifetime savings to have a dream house.
While there were varying versions on the airport expansion and acquisition plans, there had not been any official confirmation from either the Centre or the State Governments in the form of an announcement or gazette notification. This led to a lot of uncertainty and panic among the residents.The only solace was the announcement from the Chief Minister that no airport expansion project would involve acquisition of residential lands affecting the livelihood of the people. The association had planned to sustain its democratic forms of agitations till the Government could come clear.

The only relief for the people would be an announcement that only vacant lands would be acquired and no residential unit or industries would be acquired or demolished for airport expansion. The association appealed to the Chief Minister to ensure that the airport authority confined to its earlier acquisition plans since it would be sufficient enough to handle bigger aircrafts and also because of the fact that the vacant lands available as per the original acquisition plans would be adequate enough to expand the airport.Meanwhile, official sources, on conditions of anonymity, said that the State Government had more or less decided to go ahead with the expansion on a totally different alignment acquiring vacant lands on the bypass road side despite the huge costs involved in creating fresh airport infrastructure on the other side.

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