Parandur airport row: As protests intensify, DMK reaches out to villagers

The legislators helming the impromptu meeting on Wednesday at Nagapattu village, did not allow the villages to record the proceedings of the meeting.
Parandur residents met DMK MLAs and MP
Parandur residents met DMK MLAs and MP
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Faced with growing resistance from the local villagers to the proposed airport at Parandur, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MLAs and MP held a discussion with Nagapattu residents on Wednesday, September 7. People from Parandur and neighbouring villages have rejected the compensation offered by the Tamil Nadu government, in exchange for the land and houses that have to be acquired for the project. The Tamil Nadu government had earlier announced a compensation amount amounting to 3.5 times the value of land and also assured government jobs to the residents of Parandur in the newly constructed airport, which was soundly rejected by the villagers.

Kancheepuram MLA Ezhilarasan, Uthiramerur MLA Sundar, and Kancheepuram MP G Selvam conducted a grievance meeting with Nagapattu village residents at Nagapattu Primary school in the morning. Nagapattu is one of the 13 villages earmarked for the proposed airport. Ever since Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin announced the proposed construction of a second airport for Chennai in Parandur and its neighbouring villages in Kancheepuram district, the residents of this area have been steadily meeting with administrative officials and politicians to convey their concerns over losing their ancestral lands, houses, and livelihood.

The legislators helming the impromptu meeting on Wednesday did not allow the villages to record the proceedings of the meeting. More than 50 village residents who participated, handed over a memorandum to the lawmakers stating they are opposed to the construction of the airport. Residents demanded that the project be shifted elsewhere as it would affect the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people, water bodies, and damage the ecology of the area. They also stated that the proposed site for the green field project has 980 acres of water bodies. According to The Hindu, of the nearly 4,791.28 acres of land earmarked for this project, 2,605 acres are wetlands.

Watch: Chennai second airport: Security stepped up at Parandur

This meeting took place at the time when Kancheepuram police have tightened security in Parandur and neighbouring villages fearing protests. In the past two weeks, police have detained social activists and political party cadres when they tried to enter Parandur and neighbouring villages to meet people and hold meetings with residents. According to one of the participants of the Wednesday meeting, the lawmakers had arrived for an event in Nagapattu, where they were supposed to distribute bicycles to the students of Parandur Higher Secondary School. “Before they went for the event, they conducted a meeting with Nagapattu residents and spoke about employment the new airport was going to create and asked us to give up our lands,” the Nagapattu resident said. He also said that outsiders once again outnumbered the village residents on Wednesday as well. “After the meeting, a local politician threatened us that we may end up having a central reserve police force in our villages, if we do not give our land for the project,” he alleged.

The police have already set up outposts and checkpoints in the 13 villages and at all the entry points to these villages. Police officials are monitoring every person who is visiting these villages. Police have also warned the people not to encourage outsiders to visit their villages. Activists who tried to visit Parandur village have been termed as 'Naxals' by the police. Residents said they often receive 'friendly' warnings from police and were asked to inform police personnel before they interact with any media persons. On September 4, a seven-member committee from Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) visited Parandur villages and the committee's report is likely to be submitted to the government soon.

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