'New airports in Kerala only if locals agree'

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 7 (IANS) Two airports proposed in Kerala will be built only if the locals of the area give their consent, a state minister said Monday.

Minister for Ports and Excise K. Babu who also handles aviation issues, said the state government would not thrust the proposed airports in the hill districts of Idukki and Wayanad on the people.

"After a survey, we have zeroed in on 500 acres of land each in both the districts. We have already stressed that more than adequate compensation would be given to people for rehabilitation," Babu told IANS.

Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan visited the proposed site of the Wayanad airport Sunday and assured the people that their interests would be fully taken care of.

"We are not against the airport and our only concern is of the 500 acres of land that have been identified, around 250 acres of land are paddy fields and we do not wish that area to be taken up for commercialisation. Moreover, in the place there are around 250 families who have been living in the place for long, their interests also have to be looked after," said CPI-M Wayanad district secretary C.K. Saseendran.

Wayanad is set high on the Western Ghats at altitudes ranging between 700 and 2,100 metres and is a popular tourist destination.

Minister for Scheduled Tribes P.K.Jayalekshmi will call a meeting next week to address the airports issue.

Kerala has three international airports and work for the fourth at Kannur is scheduled to begin later this year.

The sanction of the union environment ministry is awaited for constructing another airport at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district.

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