hope for mobility, which was supposed to achieve some sort
of yield by the end of last year, with the internationalisation
of the Bajpe airport, 20 km from Mangalore, has been thrashed.
The development of the airport, which
primarily involves extension of the existing runway from 4,500
feet to 8,000 feet in order to facilitate the operation of
international flights, has been a long-standing demand of
trade and industry interests in this region. Even today, there
is no progress with that regard. There is absolutely
no development on ground. The land has been acquired, and
affected communities, constituting mostly Dalit families have
moved out, says Leo Saldanha of Environment Survey Group.
The internationalisation of the airport is expected to make
a marked difference to the entire economy of coastal Karnataka.
The Mangalore airport came into existence nearly 50 years
ago in 1953 to cater to Dakota aircraft. Over the years, it
was modified to accommodate Avros and Boeing 737s. The new
Rs 100-crore upgradation proposal hopes to make the airport
more conducive to the aspirations of the new globalised era.
The land required for the expansion project was to be handed
over to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) as soon as the
rehabilitation of those evicted from the site was completed
by December 2002.
Apparently, the state government seems to have allotted Rs
six crore for resettlement and rehabilitation. But the government
has, off and on, reiterated its commitment to expand the airport
to facilitate direct mobility of goods and people from Mangalore
The Supreme Court of India has clarified
in its recent order that in constructing the Airport
(2nd runway and Terminal Tower at Mangalore), the government
shall comply with all applicable laws and also with environmental
norms. The Airports Authority of India proposed to expand
the Mangalore Airport at the behest of the Mangalore Chamber
of Commerce and Industry during 1987. For various reasons
the project remained without progress for long, even though
land acquisition proceedings were initiated.
A total area of 190 acres abutting the existing Mangalore
Airport was identified to build a 2nd runway and Terminal
Tower to enable landings of Airbus 320 class of aircraft,
and also for international flight movements. But the land
identified for building the 2nd runway involved a topography
which was inherently unsuitable for the building of an airport,
as it would never allow compliance with any national and international
standard for airport construction and design. A more appropriate
location for the expansion however was not even considered,
as the acquisition of such lands would displace about 70 large
landholding families, most being highly connected politically.
Instead, the government of Karnataka decided to acquire land
that would displace 208 families, mostly from a Dalit background.
It would be difficult for the
Airports Authority of India to justify how they chose this
land, given its obvious inability to comply with airport design
and development standards. A more appropriate location was
not acquired because of political influence, says Saldanha.
There seem to be specific violations
of standards in the proposed land. The minimum required width
of the basic strip for an instrument runway has to be 300
meters. The proposed second runway has a total physical width
of only 200 meters. Secondly, an techno-economic feasibility
report should be the basis for acquisition of land, but no
such report exists till date. Thirdly, an Environment Impact
Assessment (EIA) of the project is mandatory. Such a study
is yet to be initiated. Lastly, a proposal detailing the scheme
should be made public for comment as per the Town and Country
Planning Act for a period of sixty days. This has not been
Several petitions have been filed
by the Environment Survey Group, which the Court dismissed.
But it however ordered the Authorities concerned have
to complete all formalities as per law before commencement
of the project.