Land acquisition for the proposed Kannur Airport could not take off even three months after the Kerala government according administrative sanction to acquire 2,000 acres, mainly due to 'shortage' of senior officials.
With the district administration expressing its inability to redeploy officials led by one deputy collector exclusively for land acquisition at Moorkhanparamba locality, about 30 km from Kannur, the process has virtually come to a standstill.
A high-level meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on May 10 had decided to redeploy three special tehsildars, a survey expert and recruit another 75 supporting staff on contract basis to speed up the work.
The district administration informed the government about its inability redeploy any official for the project in view of acute shortage of senior staff members, who are already discharging additional responsibilities, a senior official told PTI on condition of anonymity.
The airport, which is expected to bring about the much needed momentum for the all-round growth of the economically backward North Malabar region, has already received clearance from the ministries of defence and civil aviation and is waiting for a final nod from the Union Cabinet.
During a meeting of Kannur Airport Action Committee (KAAC), presided over by its chairman and Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan three months ago, it had been decided to acquire the land on a 'fast track' basis and complete the process in three months.
Balakrishnan said the proposal for posting new officials exclusively for the project is currently with the state cabinet and the land acquisition process would begin once the cabinet took a decision, which in all probability would come within next two months.
"The district collector has assured me that the works would begin on fast-track basis and complete the process in three months time once the required supervisory and executive staff are made available," he said.
Disputing Balakrishnan's suggestions, local Congress MLA K Sudhakaran blamed the the CPI(M)-led government for being uable to focus on vital issues.
"The government has not moved even an inch forward to speed up the preliminary works for the proposed airport and it seems that we are fighting a loosing battle," Sudhakaran, also the general convenor of the KAAC, told PTI.
Sudhakaran suggested that the industrialists and other interested groups need to exert pressure afresh on the government to achieve the goal.
KAAC vice chairman C Jayachandran apprehended that the basic issue confronting the government for commencing the airport works could be its inability to mobilise sufficient funds for disbursing the compensation package for the affected families.
During the past two years, the government was reported to have been facing acute financial crisis and this could have caused delay in chalking out strategies for initiating works for project, said.
"The government must come out with a clear picture as some firms are showing keen inclination to associate with the project," he said.
At the May 10 high-level meeting, Kerala Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) has been made nodal agency for land acquisition works and to coordinate the works between technical consultants and the Kerala Revenue Department.
During the meeting, KINFRA had submitted a proposal to acquire 1,284 acres, even as identifying 716 acres of land for acquisition. The two proposals were submitted to the district administration.
The proposals for the additional land had been forwarded to the KINFRA earlier this month for conducting technical study about the location where fair amount of dwellings and households had been reported.
However, the difficulty in redeploying officials and the government's inability to recruit required personnel still pose a big question mark as to when the land acquisition works would commence, the official said.