Expansion of airports in various locations in Tamil Nadu are stuck on a major issue - acquisition of defence land.

The State government, in a meeting held on November 25, 2021 agreed that all the land required from defence for the development of Chennai, Coimbatore and Tiruchirappalli airports shall be compensated by the State government as per National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP), 2016.

The State government, through a letter to the Centre on January 20, 2023, informed that working permission has been granted by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on the defence lands required by Airports Authority of India (AAI) near Chennai, Tiruchirappalli and Coimbatore airports. However, this permission is subject to the condition that the State government will provide suitable equal value land to the MoD in exchange for the defence lands.

Free of cost

The State government had expressed its opinion that the defence lands may be provided free of cost, considering that both the AAI and MoD are entities of the Government of India.

However, as per NCAP, 2016, the responsibility to provide land free of cost and free from any encumbrances rests with the State government, said Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M Scindia, while replying to a question in the Lok Sabha on expansion of airports in Tamil Nadu

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The AAI has undertaken development/ expansion of Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Tuticorin and Salem airports in Tamil Nadu. These initiatives encompass several significant enhancements, including the upgrading of passenger terminal buildings, construction of ATC tower cum technical blocks, runway extensions, apron expansion, runway resurfacing, and other related infrastructure improvements.

For the development of airports in Tamil Nadu, AAI had requested the Tamil Nadu government to hand over the requisite land, which comprises land of the State government, private lands and defence lands, the minister said.

Out of the total required land, 64.93 acre is required for Chennai; 627.89 acre for Coimbatore; 89.76 acre for Madurai; 471.48 acre for Tiruchirappalli; 96.77 acre for Tuticorin; 446 acre for Salem and 441 acre for Vellore airport. These are yet to be handed over to AAI. The land includes defence land of 21.2 acre at Chennai; 148.396 acre at Coimbatore and 166.97 acre at Trichy airports, he said.

Tamil Nadu has six airports (out of which three are international airports). To keep pace with the strides made by the State towards holistic development, expansion and modernisation of the existing airports has been taken up by the AAI, for which additional land is of key importance.

Tamil Nadu government through the Industries, Investment Promotion and Commerce Department acquires the lands as required by AAI for airport expansion and modernisation, says the Industries, Investment Promotion and Commerce Department.