Upcoming airport gives wings to farmers' hopes

The international airport is coming up at Kannur in neighbouring Kerala is expected to bring the market closer to commercial crops of Kodagu district.

The airport is being built on 1,263 acres of land at a cost of Rs 1,892 crore at Mookaparambu at Mattanur near Makutta, a border village in Kerala contiguous with Karnataka. It is situated at a distance of just 90 km from Madikeri, the district headquarters of Kodagu. The flight operations from the airport are expected to be launched from September. It will also be the fourth international airport in Kerala state alone.

Search for better market

In the absence of the airport, the coffee planters and farmers in Kodagu involved in pepper cultivation, orange and anthurium farming were yearning for a better market.

Even if the farmers wanted to export their produce to other countries where such crops are much in demand, they were dependent on Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, and Mumbai in Maharashtra. Although there was much demand for orange and anthurium in Gulf countries, the lack of facilities had become a hurdle.

Now, they see a ray of hope in the upcoming airport in Kerala, which may not only create further demand for native products, but also boost tourism further, feel the representatives of Kodagu District Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Managing director of Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL) V Tulsidas said, “Not just the people of Kodagu, it will also benefit people from Mysuru, Hassan and Chikkamagaluru as the airport will be connected with Gulf countries from the beginning of the commercial operations. It is also intended at developing it as a channel for economic growth, by promoting freight services in keeping with the demand for vegetables, fruits devoid of any chemicals at Gulf countries.”

Four-year wait

The work, started in November 2013, has reached the final stage, with three km runway already completed. Successful trial run was conducted in last February when a flight landed on the runway. The terminal with latest facilities is also nearing completion. Foreign-made four fire tenders have been purchased at a cost of Rs 20 crore, as an advanced safety measure. Plans are also afoot to expand the runway further up to one km totalling four km. 

If the airport becomes a reality, Kannur will join the list of bigger airports in the country. While 700 acres of land is already acquired to expand the airport further in later years. The whole project is being implemented by the government under public-private-partnership model.

Not ignoring road connectivity, Tulsidas said that talks will be held with Karnataka government towards development of Kodagu and Kannur Road via Virajpet. The Centre’s consent towards the survey of Mysuru-Thalassery Rail line via Madikeri as announced in the recent budget will be a stimulus in the promotion of tourism and goods services, Tulsidas added.

On Thursday, organising secretary of Kodagu District Chamber of Commerce and Industry Keshav Kamath held talks with his counterparts from North Malabar Chamber of Commerce and Industry from Kerala towards promoting tourism opportunities.

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