CHENNAI: The protest against the proposed new airport is gathering steam in Parandur, where the villagers have rebuffed the assurances of development that the multi-crore infrastructure project would bring to the region. They have even rejected the offer from the government to pay more than the market rate for their land, stating that they only wanted to be left alone.
Instead of constructing the Rs 20,000 crore facility on the land where they have been living for generations, the government should pick a site that is closer to the city, they demanded.
“I was born and brought up in Parandur where my family has been living for generations. All of us are into farming, which is the only work we know and our sole source of income. Now, if the airport is constructed in Parandur, all our farmland will be taken by the government, leaving us clueless as to what to do next. Giving us more money will not make our lives any easier,” said Sivakumar of Parandur.
Another villager, K Pushpa, who does farming on the family’s 10-acre land is equally worried about losing it. “My family was shattered after the announcement. The government promised to give us more money for the land but we don’t know anything other than farming. It’s not possible to start from scratch elsewhere,” she said.
Unwilling to give up their rights over the land, the villagers are protesting in different ways. During the Gram Sabha on Independence Day, the president of Eganapuram and hundreds of villagers sent representations to Kancheepuram Collector seeking to change the location of the greenfield airport. On Sunday, around 500 villagers gathered near the Ambedkar statue in Eganapuram and protested with black flags. Many have also hoisted black flags at their houses.
The government should not destroy their farmland in the name of development, urged the villagers, asking authorities to choose a location that is closer to the city so that it would be easier for fliers. “Giving us more money after snatching our farmland on which we worked hard for generations will not help us. Even if we have a bagful of money, it would be like being left alone in a dessert,” said one of the villagers.