Sabarimala Airport: Govt to identify consultant for feasibility study

Thiruvananthapuram Aug 9: Moving a step forward for the ambitious Sabarimala airport project, the State government Monday said that the process of identifying a consultant to conduct a feasibility study for the greenfield airport is on.
The airport, planned in the 2,263 acre Cheruvally estate about 48 km away from the famed Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple, has been a long felt need of lakhs of pilgrims, who throng the hillock shrine annually.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a written reply in the state assembly, said that the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation, which has been entrusted with the task of identifying the consultant, submitted a recommendation in this regard.
"KSIDC had invited Expression of Interest and submitted a recommendation to the government after completing the necessary procedures. We are examining this," Vijayan said.
The Chief Minister also made it clear that the government is yet to begin the land acquisition procedures for the proposed project.
A dispute regarding the ownership of Cheruvally Estate is now under the consideration of the Kerala High Court, he said adding that as per the revenue records the property is government land.
Lakhs of devotees visit the famed Lord Ayyappa shrine during the three-month long pilgrimage season between November and January every year.
The temple is situated in the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats in Pathanamthitta district.
The number of pilgrims visiting the temple has gone up in recent years and an airport is considered as an alternate to reduce traffic congestion during the festival season.
The state government had in February 2016 accorded in principle sanction to construct the greenfield Sabarimala Airport.
Earlier, there was a proposal to set up an airport at Aranmula, but following stiff resistance from environmental groups, the LDF government had last year cancelled all orders related to the project, including the grant of in-principle sanction.