Friday, December 24, 2010

Kannur airport set to be a dream come true

Over 13 years ago, it was a fantasy entertained by a few people here and it was then dubbed as a project that was destined not to take off. The phase of uncertainty that followed since it was formally proposed in 1997 lasted till the Central government approved it in January 2008. Now the project is all set to be converted into reality as construction work is scheduled to formally commence on December 17.

The Rs. 1100 crore greenfield international airport project all set to come up near Mattannur here was not even in the realm of the imagination of those who first mooted the idea of an airport in the district. They entertained the idea of a small airport at Madayipara, until it was shelved on the ground that the land was not adequate for developing an airport. Their longstanding dream took wings in May 1997 when then Civil Aviation Minister C.M. Ibrahim backed the proposal for an airport in the district. The vast extent of land at Moorkhanparamba near Mattannur was identified for the project a few months later following a hectic search for land for developing the proposed airport.

The formal commencement of construction activities at the project site on December 17 at a function attended by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, among others, will mark the phase of accomplishment of a longstanding dream of the people here into reality. Though the State government accorded sanction for the Kannur international airport project in January 1998 and appointed Kinfra as the nodal agency for its implementation, it had to wait for a decade till it was finally approved by the Central government.

During the period, a private agency appointed by Kinfra to study techno-economic feasibility report submitted its report.

Though there were initial obstacles to the process of land acquisition, it was not as difficult as was thought earlier thanks to the intervention of political leaders at district and local levels cutting across political parties. An extent of 516 hectares of land has been acquired for the airport as on October 7 last out of the total 519.61 ha notified. According to officials here, the steps to take over the remaining 316 ha of land will be initiated soon.

The airport being developed under private-public partnership also envisages massive infrastructure facilities including development of access roads. The access roads proposed to be developed by the time the airport project is completed include Kannur-Mattannur, Thalassery-Mattannur, Payyannur-Mattannur, Wayanad-Mattannur, among others. The project will be implemented by Kannur International Airport Ltd.

The airport to come up at Mattannur is expected to be a boon for the tourism potential in the entire North Malabar region and to give a boost to the export-oriented textile and handloom industry in the district.

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