Chennai: A second airport for Chennai is necessary for Tamil Nadu to achieve its goal of becoming a $-1 trillion economy by 2030, said Thangam Tennarasu, the state’s minister for industries, investment, promotion and commerce.
He was speaking on Wednesday at a conference titled, “Greenfield Airport: Timely Initiative to Fast Track TN’s Growth” jointly organised by the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Limited and the Madras Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The aim is to also complete the second airport to come up in Parandhur, 70 km away from Chennai, by 2030.
“So when we speak of a $-1 trillion economy, we need to get $100 billion in exports and when we look at the infrastructure, we realise that in Tamil Nadu, specifically in Chennai, we need a new airport. This will be important for us to reach a $-1 trillion economy,” the minister said.
Chennai’s existing airport in Meenambakkam will coexist with the new airport to come up and operate simultaneously. “The existing airport (within the city) is not equipped to cater to our growing demands in the future so we certainly need a new greenfield airport which will take care of the future demands,” the minister said. He explained that the existing airport cannot be expanded as it has its own challenges of not having space and being surrounded by a river, hills, habitations and a defence establishment.
The minister assured that families in Parandhur village who will be affected by the project will be protected and that they will take in experts to help design the airport in a way that is ecologically sensitive as there are water bodies there. This comes a day after villagers passed a resolution against the airport site.
The government had previously announced that they will provide a compensation which is 3.5 times the market rate besides providing an alternative land for housing and a government job for each member of a family affected by land acquisition. Since August, the villagers have opposed it saying that it will take away their agricultural lands and environmentalists have raised concerns of disrupting the water bodies.
“The first question people ask is why the new airport is outside,” the minister said, adding that they are planning to connect it with multi-modal transport as well as connect the two airports by the city’s metro rail from Ponnamallee.
“We are not unaware of these issues,” said S Krishnan, additional chief secretary (Industries) speaking at the event. He said the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) will float bids for appointment of a strategic advisor and commissioning of a techno-economic feasibility for the project. “We will ensure the flow of water to prevent any flooding in the new facility,” Krishnan said. He added that the government will also constitute a team of experts from the IIT-M and College of Engineering, Guindy to study issues related to the water flow.
Experts from the aviation and tourism industry who participated in the conference said that the new airport should attract passengers as well as cargo movement. “The new airport should be extraordinarily well-located and should be aesthetically appealing to position ourselves as a hub for passenger and logistics traffic. We already have excellent rail, road, and port connectivity,” said Mallika Srinivasan, chairman and managing director of TAFE Ltd who is also a member of Tamil Nadu State Planning Commission. “Chennai was the third largest airport in the country in terms of traffic and it has now slipped below Hyderabad and Bengaluru.”
The new airport, expected to be complete by 2030, will be built at a cost of ₹20,000 crore. It is being built to handle about 10 crore passengers a year. It will have two runways, multiple terminal buildings, taxiways and a cargo terminal.