It has been more than 25 days since the Tamil Nadu and central governments announced that a second airport for Chennai would be built in Parandur, about 59 kilometres from the existing airport in Meenambakkam.
Residents of Parandur in the Kancheepuram district have been concerned and helpless since they have no idea how the project will be implemented. They are constantly discussing the new airport, whether they are eating breakfast, working, grazing goats, or riding two-wheelers, and they are concerned that every new car entering their villages is bringing land acquisition officials.
“We haven’t gotten enough sleep and haven’t eaten much. “The happiness we had all these years has been destroyed by the government’s announcement,” says Tamil Selvi, 52, who farms on leased land in Nagapattu.
According to K Balaraman, the panchayat president of Parandur, agriculture supports approximately 3,000 families. “We learned about the airport from the media.” We are very upset about it because it will have an impact on our livelihoods. What will we do if we lose our property and home? The residents of Parandur are unanimously opposed to the airport. “They don’t want it here,” he explained.
Balaraman initially believed the airport would be built somewhere else in the district, providing jobs for the youths of his village. When he learned that the government would acquire the land on which his house sits, he felt as if he had been struck by lightning.
A day after locals unanimously approved a resolution opposing the project at a Grama Sabha meeting, a public hearing on the airport project was held at the collectorate on August 16. “We were told the hearing would begin at 9 a.m., but no officials arrived until 11:45 a.m.” Later, officials informed the representatives from the 13 villages who had gathered there that they would meet with each of them individually. “We all agreed that we would only speak to the authorities together, and we left the collectorate,” Balaraman explained.
The panchayat president rejected the government’s promises of alternative land and employment opportunities. “This is where I was born and raised. Where will the approximately 3,000 families go? .. Water will never taste the same again. Allow the authorities to visit and speak with the residents. Only then will we be able to find a solution,” Balaraman explained.
In the late 1990s, a proposal for a second airport in Chennai was made. On August 1, 2022, nearly two decades later, junior civil aviation minister V K Singh told the Rajya Sabha that the Tamil Nadu government had shortlisted Parandur as the location.
Chennai, according to Chief Minister M K Stalin, needs a new airport to meet demand, achieve the goal of a $1 trillion economy, and make the state capital the best investment destination in Asia.
According to the DMK leader, Chennai airport handles approximately 2.2 crore passengers per year, and this figure could rise to 3.5 crores in the next seven years. According to him, the new airport in Parandur will be able to handle nearly 10 million passengers per year.
The project will cost approximately Rs 20,000 crore, but the final cost will be available after a detailed project report is prepared, according to Stalin.