On Monday (13 February), the civil aviation ministry stated that important information related to the proposed Sabarimala airport, including those pertaining to land availability, is currently being examined.
The details had been provided by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd (KSIDC) on behalf of the Government of Kerala.
Kerala government recently 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.
On 30 December, 2022 Kerala government issued an order for the acquisition of 2,570 acres in Erumeli South and Manimala villages under Kanjirappally taluk. It includes 307 acres outside the Cheruvally Estate.
In June 2020, the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) submitted a proposal under Greenfield Airports (GFA) Policy to the ministry for the grant of site clearance, for the development of the Sabarimala airport in the state
The KSIDC's proposal was considered in consultation with the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Ministry of Defence (MoD) and KSIDC, as per GFA Policy.
"Based on the observations of AAI and DGCA, KSIDC was requested to submit a Techno-Economic Feasibility Study (TEFS) Report. The Final TEFS report was submitted by KSIDC in June 2022 and the same was shared with AAI and DGCA," Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, noted PTI report.
According to the minister, the proposal was later placed before the 32nd Steering Committee on greenfield airports for consideration of grant of site clearance on 22 November, 2022.
Based on the deliberations in the Steering Committee meeting, certain information with respect to — (i) availability of land, free from all encumbrances, (ii) vetting of the Impact Assessment data by an independent agency and (iii) Internal Rate of Return (IRR) — of the project was sought from the KSIDC.
"These have been received from KSIDC in December 2022 and are being analysed," Singh said in response to a query by Rajya Sabha member John Brittas.
The TEFS Report was prepared in May 2022, and was subsequently forwarded to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) for obtaining necessary ‘site clearance’ for the proposed airport.
The spatial data pertaining to the Sabarimala Greenfield Airport Project has been integrated into the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan portal.
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.
The project's anticipated cost is Rs 3,900 crore, which includes Rs 260 crore for land costs and Rs 3,400 crore for capital expenditure.
The proposed Sabarimala airport would have the longest runway of Kerala’s four international airports (Thiruvananthapuram, Calicut, Cochin, and Kannur).
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