Defence ministry likely to transfer land for Trichy airport runway expansion
TRICHY: The much-delayed move to expand the runway of the Trichy International airport has received a fillip as Defence Minister AK Antony has set in motion the first step of transferring 164.68 acre of the contentious defence land to the airport authority. In a letter dated October 1, 2013 the defense minister has assured local MP P Kumar that "this Ministry will process the case for transfer in terms of policy for transfer of defence land."
The letter of the defence minister is considered significant as the military personnel in Trichy had consistently stonewalled the expansion theory for reasons best known to them. In June, district Collector Jayashree Muralidharan had remarked that the military personnel were not even willing to attend scheduled meetings to thrash out the issue. The 164.68 land lies in the north and south of the runway. The airport authority seeks to expand the existing 8,136 ft to 12,000 so that wide-bodied aircraft could land in Trichy, thereby paving the way for increasing the export potential of some 13 districts in the region.
Airport sources said that a joint survey of the defence land was jointly conducted by the Defence Estate Office in Chennai and the officials of Trichy airport authority last month. "Considering the fact that the military personnel were in the past stonewalling process of runway expansion, the defence minister's nod comes as welcome news, and we are delighted," P Kumar told TOI on Wednesday evening. The crucial hurdle to the expansion has been removed, Kumar said.
A source at the Air Traffic Control ATC source said that Trichy airport could not truly qualify for the status as there was only a stretch of 75-meter space on northern side of the runway from its central line, whereas the international norms demanded that there should be a space of at least 150m on both sides from the central line. A total of 510 acre of land had been identified for the expansion of the airport, and much of 164 acre belonging to the Indian military lies at the crucial northern and southern side of the runway. Almost four years have passed since the land plan schedule was submitted to the State government, said Dharmaraj, the airport manager. The expansion programme would also cover 305-acre of patta land, excluding some 40-acre of poromboke land.
Meanwhile, the defence minister's letter said that the defence land could only be given on the basis of exchange of for equal value land suitable to the local military authority. P Kumar said the district administration has already acquired land at Kumbakudi in Thiruverumbur taluk to be transferred to the military establishment.
There are more good tidings for the Trichy airport. A five-metric ton capacity cold storage facility will be inaugurated at the cargo section on October 11. This transfer facility will be helpful during flight delay, flight cancellation, advance booking and holiday bookings of cargo. Moreover, the seventh bay at the airport is being run on a trial basis and the authority is waiting for the nod of Director General Civil Aviation for commissioning it, said Jebaraj, the deputy general manager of the airport. The seventh bay was shut down temporarily in order to give way for the extension of the ground support equipment area admeasuring 2,800 sq ft.