Opposition in Kerala, southern India, to proposed airport at Anakkara – with displacement of people and destruction of agricultural land
Date added: October 31, 2013
The Indian government is keen to increase the flow of tourists into Kerala. Though there are two large airports which serve the area, at Kochi and Thiruvanthapuran, there is pressure to build more. One of the sites under threat of an airport is Anakkara, which is inland, and less than 150 km from Madurai airport. There is considerable opposition – one source says the local people are united in their opposition – in the area, which is an agricultural area. The airport would take well over 500 acres, much of which now grows paddy, as well as pepper, coffee and cardamom cultivation areas. There is an Anti-Airport Agitation Council that is fighting the plans. They say hundreds of families would have to be relocated, as the area is densely populated. The purpose of the airport is solely to increase tourism, and would largely benefit the private sector. Those opposing the Anakkara plans have set up social networking campaign sites such s Save Anakkara Blog and Anti-Anakkara Airport on Facebook, explaining reasons why the airport project should not be implemented.
Wikipedia says of the proposed airport:
Anakkara Airport Dispute
Recently a new greenfield airport is being proposed by the state government. The government claims this project will improve the tourism in the area. However, Anakkara being situated on an environmentally sensitive Western Ghats, environmentalists and villagers argue that this can significantly impact the area’s climatic conditions and livelihood of people. Also the land identified for the project is one of the very few remaining paddy fields of the district, currently cultivating some of the rare indigenous varieties of rice which increases the concerns around the project. Those opposing the airport also sites the economic benefits as well, as Munnar, one of the key target destinations for the airport lies at about 100 km from Anakkara and the time taken to reach there from Cochin International Airport is less than the time taken to reach from Anakkara. Though there is no clear references online from the government on the objectives, benefits and purpose of the proposed airport, anti-anakkara-airport groups have set up social networking campaign sites such sSave Anakkara Blogand Anti-Anakkara Airport on Facebook explaining reasons why the airport project should not be implemented.
Thiruvananthapuram: With protests mounting against the proposed Idukki and Wayanad airport projects, the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) has sought the help of the respective district collectors to sort out the issues.
The ongoing feasibility study on the two projects to promote tourism have been hit due to protests from local people raising various issues, including concerns over environment and agriculture.
“We have requested the Idukki and Wayanad district collectors to initiate talks with the agitators to sort out the issue,” said KSIDC Managing Director Tom Jose.
Knight Frank was conducting feasibility study of the Wayanad project and Industrial Finance Corporation of India of the Idukki project. The Airports Authority of India had identified Panamaram and Nadayal villages in Wayanad and Anakkara in Idukki as ideal locations.
But for the protest from local people, the survey of land and feasibility study could have been completed by this time, said sources. Apart from concerns over environment and loss of agricultural land, some were also concerned over the loss of their property.
Protests for Airport Project in Idukki (Anakkara airport)
June 18th, 2013
Thiruvananthapuram (Southern India)
Protests have marked the process of identifying land for the proposed new airport at Anakkara in Idukki district. Some of the protesters recently blocked the district administration officials including the collector when the latter arrived at the scene to allay doubts and concerns of the local people regarding the airport.
The collector is expected to report the matter to the state government. The state government has earmarked Rs 50 million (Dh3.18 million) towards initial works for the project, and it is expected that an all-party meeting will be called again to discuss the details of the project.
Kerala currently has three international airports at Thiruvananthapuram, Nedumbassery and Kozhikode, but it is estimated that new airports at Kannur, Aranmula, Wayanad and Idukki will bolster the air connectivity in a state which has millions of NRIs.
Surveying of areas for feeder airport project today
14.5.2013 (The Hindu)
The initial surveying of areas for a feeder airport to be constructed at Anakkara in the district will begin on Tuesday.
District Collector T. Bhaskaran said the areas to be surveyed were Anchakkanam, Kalarickal and Poovanchimala.
Though the initial plan was to acquire 1,300 acres of land, only 500 acres will be surveyed now.
‘Against the laws’
Meanwhile, the Anti-Airport Agitation Council has said that they will oppose any move to construct an airport in the paddy fields of Anakkara.
The council chairman, T.A. Joseph said the move to construct an airport by filling paddy field is against the laws and the proposed airport is below 150 km. aerial distance from the Madurai airport. See map.
In the name of tourism
He said there was a campaign going on to misinform the people about the proposed airport. It was incorrect that only 500 acres were needed for the project, he said adding that hundreds of families had to be rehabilitated as it was a densely populated area. It was solely done in the name of tourism promotion, he said.
Anakkara paddy fields are perennial source of water for Erattayar river, which is linked to the Idukki reservoir. The land to be acquired not only include vast paddy fields, but also pepper, coffee and cardamom cultivation areas. A large number of tribals had been rehabilitated in these areas under various schemes. Anakkara is one of the earliest settlement areas in the district, he said.
Earlier, the council had blocked a team from Delhi that arrived there to visit the proposed airport areas. All residents were united against the airport, Mr. Joseph said. He said if the airport was being constructed in the name of disaster management in the district, only a helipad needed to be constructed. The airport was planned to benefit the private sector, he alleged.
Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) is the nodal agency for the construction of the airport. An official meeting held in this regard at the collectorate on Monday was attended by Additional District Magistrate P.N. Santhosh, Sub-Collector Muhammed.Y. Safarulla and representatives of KSIDC.
KOCHI: The proposed greenfield airport at Anakkara in Idukki district will require estimated investments of Rs 200 crore, including provisioning for future expansion, said sources associated with the development.
“The airport will have a single 5,000-ft runway catering to smaller transport and cargo aircraft like ATRs and the Phenom from Brazilian aircraft company Embraer. These aircraft are ideal for remote locations and require limited runway length. Hence, they are ideal for operating services to the proposed Idukki airport,” sources said.
The state government had identified 450 hectares (roughly 1,100 acres) of land for the airport and a feasibility study by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) in 2009 found the area ideal for the airport. However, it is understood that local opposition to large-scale land acquisition of what is claimed to be agricultural land, has forced the state government to reduce the scope of the project to 200 acres.
Countering this, an official associated with the project claimed that the new land acquisition target focuses only on uncultivated land parcels and large-scale rehabilitation of farmers and their families would not be necessary.
A substantial portion of the required land for the project is expected to be acquired through levelling of two hills, Poovinchimala and Sankurundampara, in the Anakkara region.
The airport is expected to further boost tourism in Idukki district and serve as a convenient embarkation point to larger airports for people living in the neighbouring districts of Kottayam, Ernakulam and Alappuzha. The Idukki district administration had submitted a feasibility report for the project to Airport Authority of India (AAI) last year. However, a report on the cost aspects of the airport project is yet to be submitted by the state government.
Anakkara is located 14 km from Kumily, 15 km from Thekkady and 85 km from Munnar on the main route connecting the three tourism destinations.
While the civil aviation ministry and the AAI have approved the proposal, it is pending clearance from the union defence ministry.
Protest against proposed airport at Anakkara to take off
6.1.2013 (from Anakkara) The Hindu
Vast stretches of paddy fields dot this village bordering Tamil Nadu. The village had been in the news once for reports of unauthorised sand-mining. Now, it finds itself in the news for another reason — a proposed airport. The district administration has demarcated thousands of acres of land for the airport, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has given its green signal for the project.
Meanwhile, people organised under the Anti-Airport Agitation Council have come out strongly against the move, and a mass blockade has been planned on Wednesday.
The airport is to come up in seven wards of the Chakkupallom and Vandanmedu grama panchayats, in an area marked between Udumbanchola and Peerumade Assembly constituencies.
As per government estimates, around 6,000 families have to be evicted in the land acquisition drive for the airport and its related development. People from the IMS Colony, Girijan Colony, Sulthankada Colony, Naduvanakkara, and Keezhanakkara will have to be evacuated, in addition to a large number of farmers, including those of Tamil origin who have been settled here for years.
No place to go
“Where should we go from this traditional colony, where we have resettled from the forest area?” asked Gracy, an 80-year-old tribal woman from IMS Colony. T.A. Joseph, chairman of the agitation council, told The Hindu that as per a report received by them through the Right to Information Act, the area to be acquired for the proposed airport was 4.5 km in length and 4.7 km in width.
The main area to be acquired included paddy fields with perennial water sources, he said, adding that the wetlands here were the main drinking water source for Kumily town, in addition to the diversion of the main stream from here to Kochera, then to Erattayar and the Idukki reservoir. “About 40 per cent of land to be acquired for the proposed airport is paddy fields, and the rest includes cardamom, pepper, coffee and vegetables cultivations, along with residential areas,” he said.
The claim by authorities that just an airstrip was planned on the proposed land and only 500 acres of land would be acquired was to cool down the strong opposition, he said. However, the agitation council had begun its campaign, distributing copies of the accessed report to the people. “The government has no alternative plan to rehabilitate the large number of people here, and those uprooted will be neglected once the project is realised. We will fight to the end against it,” he said.
“The proposed airport is expected to promote tourism, but how can one promote tourism by destroying a beautiful hill and a scenic village,” asked T.G. Purushothaman, chief patron of the council.