Tamil Nadu govt holds talks with farmers opposed to Parandur airport project


An expert committee would study the geological and hydrological features of the area in and around Parandur near here, where a green airport is proposed to be set up, a group of ministers informed farmers of Kancheepuram district opposing the project on Tuesday.

People opposed to the airport project in the district, however, said they would continue their protests until the government announced that the new airport would not come up in their villages. December 20 was the 147th day of protest.

At the Secretariat here, Minister for Development EV Velu, Minister for Industries Thangam Thennarasu and Minister for Rural Industries TM Anbarasan held talks with the farmers who are opposing the project in their villages (Kancheepuram district) as it would acquire farm land and residential areas. leading to the relocation of the government.

G Subramanian, the representative of the Struggle Committee, which is leading the protest, told reporters after the talks that they have decided to continue the protest.

Showing a “map”, he said that the airport project is proposed in an area with numerous water bodies, canals, aquifers and therefore unsuitable for an airport project. He referred to an ancient canal “Kamban Kalvay” and said that even if walls or construction work were done there would be serious damage.

The government has informed them that a committee of experts from IIT-Madras and Anna University will study the geological and hydrological aspects, he said, and the government has assured them that farmers will not be harmed.

Subramanian, who is a resident of Ekanapuram village, said in reply to a question that apart from his village, 12 other villages including Nelvoy, Nagapattu, Meleri, Mahadevi Mangalam and parts of Parandur would be affected if the project is approved.

To a question, he said that the Struggle Committee represented all the villages. The unrest is more pronounced in his village of Ekanapuram, where farm lands and houses would be completely damaged, he said.

In an official statement, the government said that the farmers of Ekanapuram village participated in the parliaments and named 10 farmers including Subramania, who alleged that the police was preventing coordination between various villages to carry out the agitation effectively.

“They (the police) don’t allow us to come together to protest.” He mentioned the recent rains and floods in the towns and asked how the airport can be established in such a region. It took authorities three days to recover the body of a boy washed away by the floods, he said.

On August 2, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin announced that a second airport in the city would come up at Parandur near Sriperumbudur, with an estimated annual passenger capacity of 10 million.

Responding to a question, Subramanian said the outcome of the proposed study would be a “failure” stressing that the local people were well aware of the hydrology and geology of their area. “Even if the experts recommended that the project go ahead, we will oppose it tooth and nail and we are ready for all the sacrifices.” This is the second meeting of the ministers with the farmers. The first meeting was held on October 15 at the Secretariat. The government has said it will provide compensation up to “3.5 times the market value” of land proposed to be acquired in villages in Kancheepuram district.

“The ministers explained to the citizens of Ekanapuram the need to study the geological and hydrological features of the airport site proposed by the expert committee. The farmers of Ekanapuram accepted this and assured their full cooperation,” the government statement said.

Subramanian said the government has promised to inform them in advance of the proposed visit of experts and that local people can voice their concerns.

The government said the talks also included land acquisition initiatives in 13 revenue villages, six of which were in Sriperumbudur taluk and the rest in Kancheepuram taluk. Both the talukas are in Kancheepuram district.

Sriperumbudur MLA Selvaperunthagai and senior officials participated in the talks. The lawmaker told reporters that he is always “with the people” and that they should not be harmed.

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