The death of livelihoods, a sense of community and fertile agricultural lands - all to expand an airport with a history of poor patronage.

Watch The human cost of expanding the Salem airport - A ground report
Delve Economics in South India Saturday, June 23, 2018 - 20:15

Omalur taluk in Salem district, Tamil Nadu is a landscape dominated by lush agricultural lands. With weavers, farmers and small business owners juggling multiple jobs in this thriving economy, the Tamil Nadu government’s airport expansion plans have forced the villagers to bear the the daily legal, physical and emotional costs of an excruciating struggle for their right over their own land.

The government is hoping to expand the 136-acre airport in order to develop an ancillary services industry for defence aircraft manufacturing.

However, the road leading to the airport makes it amply clear that a dispute is underway. In addition to the periodic mooing of cattle, every person entering and exiting the airport now bears witness to large neon signposts that scream, “Is it necessary to destroy farming to expand the airport?”

With the lives of the villagers inextricably ties to their land, resources and livelihood in the region, a protracted battle is underway.

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