Second Airport at Chennai: Local people at Parandur protest

The local people of Parandur near Sriperumbudur in the Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu are up in arms against the decision of Tamil Nadu and the Central governments to finalise Parandur as the location for the second airport in Chennai.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin had on Tuesday claimed that the airport would be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 20,000 crore and that 10 crore people would travel through the airport in a year.

The airport at Parandur will need to acquire around 4500 acres of land spread over 12 villages including Parandur, Nagapattu, Eganarpuram, Nelvai, Thandalam, and Koothavakkam for the greenfield airport. Sources in Tamil Nadu revenue department told IANS that after the Central government cleared Parandur as the location for the second airport at Chennai on Monday, the paper works for the land acquisition process commenced.

While the Tamil Nadu revenue department officials maintained that all the further acquisition processes would be commenced only after taking people into confidence and with the discussions at the grama sabha level, local people including farmers and residents are in stiff opposition to the project.

Nachiyappan (43), a farmer from Koothavakkam, in Parandur while speaking to IANS said, ” We are living by farming and if the government acquires our land what will we do for a living? I have small children and want to educate them and am the sole breadwinner for the family. The government will make all sweet talking, but in reality, nothing will happen and we will be the losers. We will protest strongly against this project that will destroy our livelihood as well as the flora and fauna of the area.”

He said that while river linking projects are on hold, the projects like airports are being given priority at the expense of the people. He said, ” I feel betrayed by the Central and StateA governments, both were close to my heart.”

R. Bindu, a postgraduate in Economics from the village who teaches in a private college in Chennai while speaking to IANS stated: ” Around 800 houses would be demolished in the area and the agrarian economy will be totally destroyed. There are many people in this village who don’t have the patta or the legal rights of the land and they will be totally on the streets.”

Another major factor haunting the villagers is the loss of jobs and livelihoods as many of them are employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) and if the fields are destroyed their livelihood will also be destroyed.

While the state government officials have confirmed that they would conduct sittings at all villages allowing the people to vent their feelings out to the officials, it has to be seen as how the protests would fizzle out in the days to come.

The announcement of the Chief Minister Stalin that the airport would be built at Rs 20,000 crore, is a clear indicator that the government is bent on constructing the second airport for Chennai at Parandur and that opposition would be sorted out with compensation unless a major movement is made out of this.




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