As the Left-front government in Kerala decides to take forward the pending proposal for an airport close to Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, it could serve as a multi-pronged strategy of improving connectivity to Sabarimala as well as pleasing devotees, especially when the Assembly bypolls in the state are set on October 21.
The proposal for a greenfield airport at Cheruvally, about 40 kms from Sabarimala, was in the back burner over the last couple of years, owing to ownership dispute over 2,263 acre of Cheruvally estate found ideal for the airport.
The proposed airport would be useful not only to Sabarimala pilgrims but also the considerable number of NRIs in Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts.
The CPM-led Left front government in Kerala on Wednesday, announced that steps to set up the airport at the disputed Cheruvally estate would be initiated by depositing land value at the court.
Incidentally, the Left-front government's decision on Sabarimala came within days after the head of the Nair Service Society, an outfit of the prominent Hindu Nair community in Kerala, took a stand against it, citing the government's support to the SC order allowing women of all ages entry into the temple.
The decision to go ahead with Sabarimala airport project could serve as damage control for the left-front over the Sabarimala issue, said a Left-front leader.
P C George, a local MLA and leader of Kerala Janapaksham party, said that the proposed airport at Cheruvally would obviously attract more pilgrims from other states and other countries to Sabarimala, as it would offer a very convenient travel.
At present, the nearest airports to Sabarimala are at Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, which are nearly 150 kms from Sabarimala, while Cheruvally is only 40 kms from Sabarimala, said Mr George, who is now aligned with the NDA.