Louis Berger to be Sabarimala airport project consultant

The selection is awaiting the government's final nod.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government will soon appoint international consultancy firm Louis Berger for the proposed Sabarimala greenfield airport and it will have to identify the ideal site for the airport within 45 days. US-based Louis Berger was shortlisted by the nodal agency Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation as the consultant through a global tendering. The selection is awaiting the government’s final nod. The firm will have to conduct the techno economic feasibility study, prepare a detailed master plan and environmental impact assessment (EIA). The final report will have to be submitted in four months and EIA clearance should be obtained within nine months.

According to sources, the consultancy firm will have to identify the most ideal site for the airport from among the six suggested by a high-level committee headed by additional chief secretary (revenue) P.H. Kurian within one-and-a-half months of formal awarding of the contract. It would also have to suggest two alternative sites from among the six. Cheruvally estate in Kottayam district and Laha and Kumbazha estates in Pathanamthitta are among the six sites suggested by the high-level committee. Though Cheruvally estate was earlier highlighted as the most ideal site close to the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, there were ownership disputes between the state government and the Believers Church.

Some local politicians were said to be mediating to settle the dispute to pave the way for the airport project there. Site assessment would be based on factors like obstacle limitation surface, wind pattern, soil study, road connectivity, cost of land, ease of development and EIA norms. Apart from the airport, the project would also comprise developing road connectivity to the airport, setting up commercial facilities like hotels, convention centres, banking facilities and entertainment facilities.

The consultancy firm will have to prepare the master plan for the development of the airport as well as the region, government sources said. Louis Berger is one of the leading international consultancy firms and was involved in many major development activities in India. Though government sources preferred to be tight- lipped on revealing the cost of the consultancy for the Sabarimala airport project, sources said that it was around Rs 4 crore.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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