Protest against greenfield airport politically motivated, says CM
CHENNAI: Chief minister M Karunanidhi on Wednesday charged that agitations announced by the AIADMK and PMK against land acquisition for the proposed greenfield airport at Sriperumbudur was "politically motivated". "Their intention is to prevent the DMK government from taking credit for implementing such mega projects," he charged.
In a rejoinder to the two parties, he said the agitation was totally unwarranted as no particular site had been identified so far. Only soil testing work was going on at present, he noted. Officials had taken soil samples from 64 places spread across 4,200 acres so far. Soil samples were taken from Tirumangalam, Molachur, Sokandi, Mampakkam, Sriperumbudur, Kilai, Sirukilai, Vadamangalam and Padichery in Sriperumbudur taluk and Kottaiyur, Vadalur, Thiruppanthiyur in Tiruvallur taluk. Land acquisition work had not yet started.
His government's intention was not to snatch the houses and agricultural fields of common people, he said. If any land had to be acquired, the government would provide adequate compensation, he said and added that at a recent meeting of official convened by chief secretary K S Sripathi, it was communicated to the Airports Authority of India that only the minimum required land for the airport project should be acquired.
Responding to PMK founder S Ramadoss' suggestion to shift the project to an alternative site, Karunanidhi said Ramadoss was aware that the government had narrowed in on the present site after considering a lot of other options. Any other site would have led to massive dislocation of human habitations, he claimed.
The present airport was bursting at the seams owing to congestion caused by increasing air traffic, Karunanidhi said and noted that the Centre was going ahead with plans to expand existing airports or set up greenfield airports in all major cities. Neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka had completed work on new airports. "Here alone, people are keen on spiking the airport project," he lamented and added that a big airport was any growing city's necessity and if such projects were opposed, it would affect the state's economic growth.
It was at a meeting of various legislature party leaders on May 22, 2007 that it was decided to set up a greenfield airport on 4,821 acres in Sriperumbudur and Tiruvallur taluks even as expansion of the present airport in Chennai is underway. D Jayakumar of AIADMK and GK Mani of PMK attended that meeting. It was resolved to ask the Airports Authority of India to take up the work on its own. The state government had not taken this decision unilaterally, he said.