Decks have been cleared for establishing the Sabarimala greenfield airport at Erumely, as the project proposal has received approval from the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The approval from the centre came after it reviewed the techno-economic feasibility study report presented by the state government.
The airport once completed is expected to benefit pilgrims travelling to the Lord Ayyappa Shrine at Sabarimala and also to the popular pilgrimage centre of Maramon.
Three Years In Pipeline
In June 2020, the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) had submitted a proposal under Greenfield Airports (GFA) Policy to the ministry for grant of site clearance for development of the Sabarimala airport in the state.
The KSIDC's proposal was considered in consultation with the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Ministry of Defence (MoD) and KSIDC, as per GFA Policy.
"Based on the observations of AAI and DGCA, KSIDC was requested to submit a Techno-Economic Feasibility Study (TEFS) Report. The Final TEFS report was submitted by KSIDC in June 2022 and the same was shared with AAI and DGCA," Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh had said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha in Feb 2023.
According to the minister, the proposal was later placed before the 32nd Steering Committee on greenfield airports for consideration of grant of site clearance on 22 November 2022.
The site clearance follows satisfactory replies given by the state government to queries raised by the DGCA and AAI.
The KSIDC has initiated preliminary measures for land acquisition. Upon completing land acquisition, the detailed project report (DPR) will be prepared, followed by the setting up of a Special Purpose Vehicle to execute and operate the project.
The construction work of the airport is expected to take another three to four years after all the requisite approvals are in-place.
Earlier, the state government had issued an order to acquire 1,039.87 hectares (2,570 acres) belonging to Cheruvally Estate spread over Erumely south and Manimala villages in Kanjirappally taluk.
The site clearance is a major development for the project as it certifies that the Cheruvally estate and adjacent land are suitable to construct an airport.
Presently, the social impact assessment (SIA) study for the project is in its final stage, while the environment impact assessment (EIA) is nearing completion.
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