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Expansion of TamilNadu Airports hits stride

With the acquisition of land for the expansion of six airports in the State gaining momentum, the authorities are hopeful of completing the process within a year.

Apart from the Chennai airport, the expansion work is on in Madurai, Thoothukudi, Coimbatore, Salem and Tiruchi.

In respect of Madurai and Thoothukudi, the original sanction of the government for the land acquisition was given as early as in 2008 and 2010.

In the last one year, the process gained pace and it has been accelerated further, say officials in charge of the Transport and Land Administration (LA) Departments, both of which are involved in the acquisition of land for airports.

The Transport Department facilitates the provision of land, free of cost and free of encumbrances, to the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

The LA department is responsible for supervision of land acquisition of private lands for public purposes.

Private talks

Though the acquisition for all the airports is being undertaken under the 1997 State law on industrial projects, the payment of compensation is being done as per the 2013 Central law on land acquisition. Invariably, the process is being carried out through private negotiations with landowners that, a senior official of the LA department says, enables quicker completion of the process.

“If you follow the 2013 law, it takes, on an average, three years to go through all the steps. But you can complete the process in about a year through private negotiations,” the official explains, adding that at the end of the negotiations, consent is obtained from the owners.

As the acquisition is almost over in respect of Thoothukudi, even bids have been floated for extending and widening the existing runway, says an official of the Transport department. The idea is to handle A-320 aircraft at Thoothukudi.

Coimbatore airport

As regards Coimbatore, the LA Department official says the district-level panel has completed consultations with landowners on the issue of compensation. Shortly, the matter will be placed before the State-level committee, after which it will be referred to the Transport Department for final approval.

Officials overseeing the execution of development projects are keen on ensuring that the Coimbatore airport expansion project takes off early so that the volume of traffic that the western city is reported to have lost to Kerala is regained as soon as possible. For the remaining airports too, the State government’s focus is on early completion of the acquisition work.

Asked about the proposed greenfield second airport for Chennai, the Transport Department’s official says that the location has not been finalized as of now.