Kerala Govt Sanctions Acquisition Of 2,570 Acres To Build International Airport Near Sabarimala Temple
The Sabarimala temple, which can only be reached by road at present, receives nearly 50 million devotees in each pilgrimage season. Hence, the airport is considered a solution to ease traffic and improve access.
In a move that improves accessibility to the Sabarimala temple and aids development of the region around it, Kerala state government sanctioned land acquisition for the proposed Sabarimala International Greenfield Airport.
Sabarimala International Airport is a proposed greenfield airport to be built in Erumely near Sabarimala temple, in the Kottayam district of Kerala. The proposed airport’s location is Cheruvally Estate, once the site of a rubber plantation.
The Sabarimala temple is part of the Western Ghats and is one of India’s holiest shrines. Currently, the hill shrine can only be reached by road. The temple receives nearly 50 million pilgrims each season. Hence, the airport is considered a solution to ease traffic during the pilgrimage season.
Kerala government on Friday (30 December) issued an order for acquisition of 2,570 acres in Erumeli South and Manimala villages under Kanjirappally taluk. It includes 307 acres outside the Cheruvally Estate.
However, land acquisition may take place only after a social impact assessment (SIA) evaluated by an expert committee and a site clearance from the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Cheruvally Estate, which is the location of the proposed airport project, is presently in possession of Believers’ Church and the ownership of the land is in dispute.
Claiming its ownership, the district administration of Kottayam had filed a civil case in a Sub-Court in Pala against the church.
“The government has submitted all the relevant documents to the court. If the order is in favour of the government, there is no need to acquire the land. If it is not, then the government can proceed with the land acquisition process after depositing the value of the land in the court,” Kottayam District Collector P K Jayasree told The New Indian Express.
According to The Times of India, once the airport project is finished, the airport will see an increase in traffic from 16.9 lakh (domestic and foreign passengers included) in 2026 to 32.9 lakh in 2035 and 64.2 lakh in 2052. In terms of cargo, the airport would handle 4.45 metric tonnes in 2026; this amount would rise to 7.85 metric tonnes in 2035; and 14.81 metric tonnes in 2052.
The project’s anticipated cost is Rs 3,900 crore.