Airport expansion draws people's ire

Coimbatore residents threaten suicide


Many families led by their women at Sengiyampalayam near Peelamedu were out on the streets threatening to “hang themselves” as the airport expansion project could displace over 5,000 residents in the area.

While the newly constructed terminal building of the Coimbatore airport was opened amid much fanfare days before the DMK organised the first World Classical Tamil Conference (WCTC) last June, women-folk wailing and howling came as a big blow to the government’s ambitious plans for the future.

For the affected residents near Peelamedu, the mirth and spirit of WCTC faded away as the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has urged the Tamil Nadu government to hand over 613 acres of land adjacent to the airport for an “integrated expanded terminal building” at a total cost of Rs 395 crore.  

This will involve demolition of over 400 houses, including several small industrial units, sources told Deccan Herald over the phone from Coimbatore. Carrying placards , the women raised slogans saying: “Hang us first with these nooses and then expand your airport.”

Police pacify agitators

The agitators agreed to return only after the police assured the residents that they would convey residents’ feelings to the district collector.

The unseemly protest came as an acute embarrassment for two UPA bigwigs, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P Chidambaram, who landed in Coimbatore on Saturday for a function to release a commemorative coin to mark the centenary of the late Congress leader and former finance minister C Subramaniam.

Equally disconcerting for the state government was the fact that the stir was taking place near Peelamedu airport when Chief Minister M Karunanidhi was presiding over a two-day meeting of district collectors and top police officials in Chennai to review the overall law and order and other development programmes.

Recently, the Opposition AIADMK and PMK had led a protests at Sriperumbudur near Chennai against the proposed “Green Field Airport” for the southern metro which involved converting hundreds of acres of agriculture land in the area for the project.

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