Parallel runway plan in city aborted
CHENNAI: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has dropped its plan to build a parallel runway at the Chennai airport. The decision comes after the state government informed AAI that they would rather prefer a new airport at Sriperumbudur.
The parallel runway was proposed in 2006 after studies showed that the existing terminals and runways would be inadequate to handle air traffic and the existing airport will saturate by 2015. But AAI had put the project on hold after the state government in 2009 expressed a keen interest to have an airport at Sriperumbudur.
The project was put on hold after AAI chairman V P Agrawal met the then state chief secretary K S Sripathy. They commissioned a study by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on the feasibility of building a new airport at Sriperumbudur.
The ICAO study, published in 2010, recommended that a parallel runway need not be constructed if a new airport was going to be built at Sriperumbudur. AAI officials handed over the report to the state government soon after Jayalalithaa took over after the elections this year. After the state government expressed its wish to have a second airport, AAI sent a letter saying that they will not require the land marked for acquisition for the parallel runway, said airport director E P Hareendranathan.
The four-runway second airport is proposed to be built on 4,823 acres at Sunguvarchathiram near Sriperumbudur, northwest of Chennai, at an estimated cost of Rs 3,500 crore, according to its initial plans.
Close to 1,000 acres in Kolapakkam, Manapakkam, Tharapakkam and Gerugambakkam area have been marked for acquisition for the parallel runway and the state government served notices to land owners in 2007. However, the government was finding it difficult to acquire land northwest of the Adyar river. It was estimated that the land acquisition would cost Rs 2,000 crore.
Residents of the areas had been protesting the move to acquire land for the runway for more than three years. They wanted the state government to build a second airport and de-notify their land. However, the state government is yet to de-notify the land that was marked for acquisition.
There was a feeling among officials that it would be more logical to have a second airport than spending money to expand the existing airport. The existing airport cannot be expanded further because land around the campus has been developed into residential localities.
AAI needs about 5,000 acres in Sripreumbudur for the construction of the new airport. Now, it remains to be seen if the government can get the work done in a fast-track mode.