Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
"The original estimates have increased and the modernisation of both the airports
is expected to cost about Rs 2,300 crore each," Planning Commission sources told PTI, adding, the issue came up during a meeting to review the implementation of the decisions of high-powered Committee on Infrastructure, which is headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Modernisation of the two airport projects was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in August 2008 at a cost of over Rs 3,750 crore and the work was to be completed within three years. Although the projects are likely to cost more, the work is likely to be completed within stipulated time, the official said without specifying the reasons for the cost escalation.
The Airport Authority of India (AAI), which is implementing the projects, has informed the CoI that work has started on modernisation of the two airports. After completion of the projects, the two airports will be at par with those at Delhi and Mumbai. Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had approval of the modernisation schemes.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Nearly 100 people 'affected' by the land acquisition made for expansion of the Chennai airport today recorded their protest by making use of a relevant section in the election procedure 49(0) — not casting vote for any particular candidate — during the Lok Sabha elections held here today.
S Karthikeyan, a resident of Tharapakkam, one of the areas which has been earmarked for land acquisition for the project, told PTI that he and the other protesters preferred not to vote "to express anger against the government."
Tharapakkam comes under Sriperumbudur Lok Sabha constituency, where Union Minister T R Baalu is contesting from.
"About 100 affected persons went to the respective booths and signed the Form 17-A (to declare the intention not to vote)," Kartikeyan, spokesperson for the umbrella organisation 'United Forum for People's Survival' said. Under section 49-O, the voter can record his decision not to vote, for which Form 17-A is made available
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Despite Training, Polling Officers Caught Unawares On Rule 49(O) Procedures
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Chennai:More than 10,000 people in the city opted for Rule 49(O), which allows the voter to mark his presence at the polling booth, but not cast his vote for any candidate. However, in many cases election officers were caught unawares.
Despite the election department’s claims of having conducted training for polling officers, many of them had no clue about the option. A few officials who knew that it existed, however, were not familiar with the right procedure to be followed. Corporation commissioner and district electoral officer Rajesh Lakhoni admitted that the turnout was unexpectedly big.
V Gopalakrishnan, a social activist, was the first at the MGR Corporation School in Chennai South constituency to ask for the Rule 49 (O) option. “The polling officer at booth 136 was totally blank. Then he asked me to ‘vote for some candidate and leave’. When I insisted on entering my refusal to vote in the 17A register, he called the zonal officer, who was equally ignorant. Finally, I called the district electoral officer and, after 90 minutes of struggle, got it done,” said Gopalakrishnan.
Dr S Murugasundaram, a dermatologist and a voter of ward 70 of Kilpauk in Chennai Central, had a similar experience when he went to vote at 8am. “The officer was rude when told about 49(O). He asked me not to create a ruckus and leave the place. However, I stood my ground and registered my refusal to vote,” he said. Several people complained of policemen threatening them when they refused to leave the polling booths without registering their names under Rule 49(O) to prevent bogus voting in their names.
V Anandarajan of Nanganallur, which falls under the Sriperumbudur constituency, found the exercise smoother, but the officer there refused to apply indelible ink on his finger though the rule specifies that ink should be marked on the voter’s finger. All this, despite posters in front of polling booths mentioning the rule and the procedure being explained in the polling officer’s handbook (page 39). According to Gopalakrishnan, what compounded the confusion was the use of the Tamil word ‘padivam’ (form) to describe 17A instead of ‘padivedu’ (register) under rule 49(O). Voters insisted on a form, while all they had to do was to sign in the register which others did, too, and mention in the remarks column ‘refuse to vote’. Admitting there was widespread confusion, corporation commissioner and district electoral officer Rajesh Lakhoni said an unexpectedly large number of people opted for rule 49 (O). “Some officials may not have taken the training seriously and nobody anticipated such a large number of people choosing the option,” he said.
In Sriperumbudur constituency, residents affected by the expansion of Chennai airport had pledged to exercise the ‘no vote’ option to express displeasure at the indifference shown by political parties to their plight. But only 60 exercised it at different polling booths in Manapakkam, Gerugambakkam, Kolapakkam, Kovur and Tarapakkam in the constituency.
The rest of them chose to boycott the polls, frightened of being harassed by agents of political parties. Brinda Brighton, an office bearer of the United Peoples’ Forum for Survival, formed by affected residents, said: “People are now afraid of local agents of political parties.
There is no privacy in exercising the ‘no vote’ option because we have to ask the presiding officer for form 17A and we are identified by party agents. At least in the next polls, the Election Commission should make it possible for people to exercise the option on the EVMs.”
CASTING THEIR DISPLEASURE More than 10,000 people in the city opted for Rule 49(O), which allows the voter to mark his presence at the booth but not cast his vote for any candidate Despite the election department’s claims of having conducted training for polling officers, many of them had no clue about the option.
Though residents affected by the expansion of Chennai airport had pledged to exercise the no-vote option to express displeasure at the indifference shown by political parties to their plight, only 60 exercised the right
Monday, May 11, 2009
On Monday, the affected residents of Manapakkam, Kolapakkam, Geragambakkam and Tarapakkam met Baalu to discuss their predicament, but the response from the Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways was, “Airport expansion is in national interest, for which one has to make sacrifices.” He even went on to cite how he had given up his own land in Thanjavur for the sake of national interest.
The Airport Authority of India had notified 939 acres for a parallel runway.
“This would result in the eviction of 947 dwelling houses, 250 semi constructed houses, 2,000 approved plots, 14 brick kilns, an international school with 2,000 students, 15 small scale industries, 500 acres of agricultural land, livelihood of 25,000 people and last but not the least, the lives of 500,000 people,” said Brindha, a resident of this area and the leader of the resident’s movement to protect their lands, under the banner ‘United People Forum for Survival’.
Airport expansion: No vote
Chennai: The United Peoples’ Forum for Survival is a forum formed by the people affected by the Chennai airport expansion project, has decided to boycott the general elections if no political party comes forward to give an assurance to de-notify the project.
The forum coordinated by the affected residents of Manapakkam, Gerugumpakkam, Kolapakkam, Tharapakkam and Kovur have also stated that they would support any party that will promise the de-notification.
The forum demanded immediate de-notification of the acquisition plan of excess 939 acres of land, which was allotted for the parallel runway.
When Airport Authority of India considers Greenfield Airport to be more advisable, why should they proceed with the land acquisition which affects the livelihood of more than a lakh of people.
Residents affected by airport expansion to boycott elections
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Chennai: Irked by political indifference to their demands, residents of Manapakkam, Gerugambakkam, Kolapakkam, Tarapakkam and Kovur have decided to either boycott the polls or exercise the right ‘not to vote’ under Rule 49 (O) of the Conduct of Election Rules.
These villages, which house about 2,500 families and 5,000 voters, come under the Sriperumbudur constituency and the land here has been marked for acquisition to construct a parallel runway for the airport.
“We will not support any political party unless political parties give an undertaking that they will de-notify the 939 acres of land marked for acquisition,” said representatives of the United Peoples’ Forum for Survival, formed by residents whose land has been notified for acquisition for more than a year.
At a press conference, Brinda Brighton, an office-bearer of the forum, said “we have been raising this demand for a while, but none of the candidates has made any commitment to save us. This has not figured as an issue in the campaigning also. So, residents and their well wishers will also boycott the polls.”
In addition to the 130 acres of land handed over for extending the secondary runway, the state government has notified around 939 acres of land in these villages for constructing a parallel runway. However, the state government had not only failed to acquire the land for over a year, but also had kept the residents in the dark about the status of the move.
“We want the government to go ahead with the Greenfield airport instead of spending huge money to build a parallel runway. The runway will take away 947 houses, 250 semi-constructed houses, 2,000 approved plots, 14 brick kilns, an international school with 2,000 students, 15 small-scale industries, and 500 acres of agriculture land,” Brighton said.
Recently, residents brought social activist Medha Patkar and staged a protest meet at Manapakkam urging the government to de-notify the land marked for acquisition and demanding the government to go ahead with the Greenfield airport.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Airport runway expansion by May-end
CHENNAI: A final word on the runway expansions at Chenai airport would emerge by the end of May after a meeting scheduled in Delhi this month. This was stated by the Airports Authority of India Chairman, V P Agarwal, who was on an inspection visit to Chennai on Saturday.
The expansion and renovation plans of the main and secondary runways with appended link and taxiways that was to begin in the first week of April had been stalled owing to approval delays on the project by the airport authorities in Delhi after a representation was made by the airline operators on the non-viability of the project in the face of losses that they are already facing.
“There was only a coordination issue on the project with the airlines which will most probably be sorted out by the end of this month and we will have a decision then,” he said. On queries related to the radar failure, Agarwal agreed that a new radar was long overdue.
“Chennai will have two new radars, which have already been tendered for and will now be recalled. One radar will be installed by the end of 2009 and the other one will come in a phased manner,” Agarwal said.
A total modernisation of the ATC tower is also in the offing where more automated processes will be brought in at a cost of Rs 140 crore on lines of what is available in Delhi and Mumbai.
Greenfield airport decision awaits ICAO report:
On being queried on the greenfield airport, Agarwal said that they were awaiting a detailed report, which was likely to be ready in the next two months, and if everything went well, the airport would come up in a joint venture with TIDCO if there was no scope for a parallel runway at the existing airport.
“If a greenfield airport comes, it’ll take care of requirements of passengers for the next 30 years and if everything goes well for that project it can be done within three years in the Sriperumbudur area. In that case, we don’t have to look at the high investments in procuring land for the parallel runway at the existing airport,” he said.
Now that the Chairman of AAI has agreed in public that the Green field Airport is the right alternative than going for the parallel runway, let's hope the government to will take immediate steps and de-notify the areas already notified for Parallel runway which will enable the residents there to continue with their normal life and re-start the construction activities stalled for 2 years. This decision to do away with the parallel runway saves a lot of public money from being wasted and greenfield airport is the only futuristic decision chennai needs.
By S Brighton 5/10/2009 11:23:00 PM
It makes sense for AAI to go for new greenfield airport with futuristic approach than try to expand the run, giving hardships thru land acquisition. Though Sriperumpudur would also witness similar land acquisition (it isn't really practical, otherwise), impact on land owners and environment will be significantly less. I hope AAI initiate new greenfield airport project ASAP, to realize the airport up and running by 2014.
By ramki 5/10/2009 7:01:00 PM
Absolutely now that AAI realised the realty, and hope they would stall the land acquisition programme on it's surroundings, thus, heaving a sigh of relief to the residents there instead. On the other hand, AAI should start implementing the new greenfield airport at Sriperumpudur at the earliest possible, in order to meet the requirements for the next 30 years or so.
By Jeeva 5/10/2009 1:16:00 PM