After the airport at the neighbouring district of Salem was revived under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) or UDAN (“Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik”), it is now Vellore’s turn to realise its long-felt need for an airport. District officials are conducting an assessment of government poramboke lands in and around the airstrip at Abdullapuram to pave way for its operationalisation.
With the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation announcing that flight services will be introduced from Vellore by this year end, the long wait for an airport in the district is nearing an end. The need for an airport had been reiterated over the past several years as the district has frequent fliers from institutions such as VIT and Christian Medical College, and also leather industries.
50 acres of land sought
According to official sources, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has sought nearly 50 acres of government poramboke land to start works to operationalise the existing airstrip at Abdullapuram under RCS.
“We have sought nearly 50 acres of government poramboke land. Once the State government hands over the land, we will start the infrastructure work such as the construction of the runway and buildings,” an official source said.
Collector S. A. Raman along with revenue officials recently inspected the airstrip.
An official said, “AAI, through its regional executive director of Southern Region, had submitted a proposal seeking additional land of 66 acres of both patta and poramboke land to expand the airstrip. Currently, the airstrip is suitable only to operate an eight-seater aircraft, while AAI has plans to operate a 20-seater aircraft under RCS.”
He said this was a preliminary inspection following AAI’s proposal. “The officials analysed the field status and bottlenecks. We have sent a report to the State government, and they will look into it. The government will accord administrative sanction to start the work,” he added.
A senior official said that an assessment of the government lands is being conducted now. “The government has given the nod for expanding the airstrip. Once the required land is handed over, AAI will take up works for operationalisation. We are also looking at two private lands that should be acquired, while there will be no acquisition of farm lands,” the official said.
He added that a portion of the main road leading to Anaicut is falling inside the airport. “This road is under the State Highways Department. We will be acquiring that portion of the road, while an alternative road will be created for the local residents,” he said.