Fourth Grama Sabha resolution against new airport in Chennai
Chennai: In the fourth consecutive grama sabha meeting, the people of Egnapuram village in Kanchipuram district passed a resolution unanimously on Thursday urging the State and Union Governments to change the location for the second airport for Chennai as the present proposal would ruin the livelihood of farmers and displace residents of 13 villages, besides causing extensive damages to the environment.
As a large number of people gathered at the mandatory grama sabha meeting convened on Republic Day, it gave rise to a tense situation,necessitating the deployment of a huge posse of police in the region. Yet the people moved the resolution and passed it unanimously even as their daily night protest against the proposal to set up the airport entered the 184th day.
Members of the protest committee told the media after the grama sabha meeting that they would intensify their agitation if the government made the next announcement towards acquiring their land. If the government kept quiet they would continue with the night protest, in which all the people in the villages gather at a place to discuss their strategy and raise slogans after returning from work.
The Greenfield airport, proposed to be constructed on 4,750 acres of land in the 13 villages including Parandur, Vazhathur, Nelvai, Thandalam, Melpadavur, Nagapattu, Egnapuram, Edayarpakkam, Akkammapuram, Kunagarambakkam, Chingilipadi and Mahadevi Mangalam, has been opposed by the people whose land would be taken up for the project since the day the announcement was made.
In all the three grama sabha meetings held since then - on Independence Day (August 15, 2022), Gandhi Jayanthi (October 2, 2022) and Panchayat Raj Day (November 1, 2022) – the people of the villages have passed similar resolutions despite the best efforts of the State government representatives including Ministers and senior party leaders to dissuade them from opposing the project.
Though the government had given them several assurances on relocating them and also paying compensation worth three times the land value in their locality, the people, primarily farmers, do not want to lose their lands, held by them for generations.
On Thursday, too, the members of the protest committee said that there was no scope for any compromise with the government and that they would continue to oppose the project tooth and nail.
The area earmarked for the airport comprises fertile paddy fields and water bodies, besides the residential areas where the people have been living for many generations. So, those fearing the loss of their livelihoods and homes have even suggested alternative sites for the airport, which the government says is important for the State’s economic growth.
Yet the government, which has zeroed in on the Parandur site after a close scrutiny of all the other proposals made by experts, is keen on acquiring the land and handing it over to the Union Government for building the second airport for Chennai as the present airport at Meenambakkam has no scope for anymore expansion.