|Now Kerala is to get another airport, its fifth one, at Erumeli. The
official version is that it would go a long way in bringing more
pilgrims to Sabarimala. Land has been identified for it, 2000 acres
belonging to the Believer's Church, which is mired in controversy with
allegations of it being illegally encroached upon.
But why does the state need another airport? More importantly why is the government, irrespective of the ruling fronts, pushing for more international standard airports when there is no clamour from the public or experts for one? Is development really the motto here?
To bring forth development the present government has assured all support for budding entrepreneurs in the state, especially those in the IT sector. For this IT parks have been or are being built in every district. So far so good. The only problem is that these parks exist totally isolated from each other. Heavily congested narrow roads of inferior quality have resulted in time-distance between cities go frustratingly up as years go by. It takes about two hours to cover the 70 odd kilometres between Thiruvanathapuram and Kollam, about 6 hours to cover 220 kms to Kochi. The clamour for better road connectivity between cities and towns is ubiquitous. Still the government can't do much, because of high costs and unavailability of land .
Sabarimala is one of the major pilgrim centres in South India. Lakhs of devotees arrive at this holy abode every year. It is a fact that the forest shrine in the present condition is full up to the brim in its capacity to accommodate pilgrims. To cater to more numbers major works on infrastructure development, water availability, pollution control, restrooms, lodging all need to be fast-tracked. Every year a fraction of these works are carried out and rest is left to God. It is too difficult, they say. The shrine is located in sensitive forestland, funds are sparse and land availability is a major hurdle
With the coming of the latest airport at Kannur, there will be no major
town in the state that will be placed more than 150km away from an
international airport, which only serve a small section of the
population anyway. If a demand does exist, it is not for more airports
but for more aeroplanes. Airports require high capital investment, vast
tracts of land and almost always function as loss making entities. Sound
and air pollution from airports cover more area than any other
infrastructure project. And yet the government is all for more airports.
Madan Sivadasan D (MSD)
Contributor to Yentha. He lives in Kochi but his heart beats for his home town Trivandrum. Absolutely no ambiguity on his views or in his writings