Coimbatore will have its own international airport on the lines of the Devanahalli airport in Bangalore by July 2014. After months of protests by local villagers, the decks have been cleared for acquiring lands for the expansion of its existing airport.
The Tamil Nadu government has given an assurance to Airports Authority of India (AAI) that the acquisition of around 612.97 acres of land required for the expansion works would be completed by next June. And the AAI can start construction works from next July.
"The works would begin in a time-bound manner as soon as the acquisition process gets over. We need just three more years to finish the construction work. And on completion, it would be an all-new international airport, comparable only with the recently constructed international airports like Bangalore and Hyderabad," Airport Director Peter K Abraham told The Times of India.
With an extended runway of 12,000 ft (it is 9,900 ft at present), it can facilitate landing and takeoff of wide-bodied and fat-bellied international flights. "What we are visualizing is not just a cosmetic expansion and renovation. It would be a total revamp keeping in view of the city's needs for another 30 years," said Peter.
On completion, the main building with domestic and international terminals would come up in the area facing L&T Bypass and so the public can use it as the main entrance. There would be an entrance from Trichy Road as well.
However, the present entrance from Salem Road would be closed and the existing airport building would be used to accommodate various offices of AAI and its affiliated organizations.
Terming the expansion and renovation works as boosters to city's industrial and commercial growth, the airport director said the existing cargo terminal would also be expanded by doubling its present capacity of 40 tones at a time.
The AAI has already earmarked Rs 300 crore for the renovation and funds would not be a constraint for the time bound completion of works, he said. "We are aware of the hurdles in the wake of land acquisition. The state government has agreed to give us 612.97 acres in the place of a demand for 848 acres. But the shortage in the availability of land would in no way affect the setting up of a fully international airport,'' he said.
Meanwhile, revenue officials have started marking the outer boundaries for the extended airport in Kalapatti, Uppilipalayam, Singanallur, Irugur and Nilambur villages. The state government has already allotted Rs 350 crores for the land acquisition process and the identified plots would be taken over by giving suitable compensation. "The compensation amount for each affected family is yet to be fixed. Government has already expressed its consent for allocating more funds for compensation if the need arises. A special revenue officer and three tehsildars would be soon deputed to speed up the acquisition," district revenue officer A Shanmugha Sundaram informed.