In a significant development for Chennai’s second airport project in Parandur, near Chennai, a high-level committee is set to submit ecological impact ieport addressing environmental concerns soon.
The new airport is planned at an investment of Rs 20,000 crore with a capacity to handle 100 million passengers per annum.
This report aims to ensure that the construction of the airport proceeds without harming the region’s ecology. The project has faced opposition from environmental activists, residents, and farmers concerned about its potential negative impacts.
It was in August 2022 that Chief Minister M K Stalin announced that a greenfield airport would be built in Parandur, located around 15 km northeast of Kanchipuram, at an investment of Rs 20,000 crore with a capacity to handle 100 million passengers per annum.
The Parandur location was selected as the site for the project due to the present airport’s impending capacity saturation and other passenger issues.
The project with a total area of 4,791 acres covering about 13 villages has seen vociferous protests with residents consistently objecting to it as they will have to give up their land, severely affecting their livelihoods.
Also, out of the total land area required for the airport, more than 50 per cent (2,605 acre) are wetlands. Many activists and experts, apart from the villagers, had voiced their dissent, fearing that it may cause serious damage to the environment.
To put things into perspective, residents of Ekanapuram village, one of the 13 villages to be affected by the Parandur airport passed a resolution against the project during a gram sabha meeting held on 26 January this year — this was the fourth time such a resolution was passed.
Subsequently, the state government assured the setting up of a technical committee to analyse and recommend measures for mitigating the impact and conserving water bodies and also find an effective solution for the land acquisition issues for the villagers, including the farmers.
Following this, in March 2023, a seven-member high-level committee (HLC) was constituted to look into the environmental and land acquisition issues.
The committee headed by a retired IAS officer has hydrogeological experts from IIT Madras and Anna University and officials from the State government including the Water Resources Department, TIDCO, Kancheepuram Collectorate and Commissionerate of Land Administration
Approximately 80 per cent of the report is complete and to be submitted by the end of the month or early next month.
Techno-Economic Feasibility Report (TEFR)
Simultaneously, the US consultancy firm Louis Berger is working on a comprehensive Techno-Economic Feasibility Report (TEFR) for the Parandur airport, which spans 4,791 acres.
The work on a detailed techno-economic report was initiated four months ago. It encompasses traffic surveys, obstacle limitation surface studies, financial models, social impact assessments, and environmental impact evaluations. Additionally, a detailed master plan is being developed to facilitate the project’s construction.
Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) hired Louis Berger in December last year to prepare a comprehensive techno-economic report and assist with securing the necessary clearances from various agencies over the next several years.
Administrative sanction for the Parandur airport is expected from the Tamil Nadu government within the next two weeks, as per The Hindu report. This will initiate crucial processes such as land acquisition and defining the airport’s boundaries.
The selected site for the second airport, Parandur, is located approximately 60 km from the Meenambakkam airport in Chennai.
Tamil Nadu’s Minister of Industries, Thangam Thennarasu, said that the construction of the proposed Parandur Greenfield Airport would be completed by 2028.
The project is expected to have an investment-to-return ratio of Rs 100 to Rs 325.
Greenfield Airport at Parandur benefits Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, and Chengalpattu, as well as the expanding demands of south Indian states.