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New Kerala airport to come up near Sabarimala

LiveMint logoLiveMint 19-07-2017 Nidheesh M.K.

Bengaluru: Kerala’s fifth airport will come up near the popular pilgrim site Sabarimala. A cabinet meeting on Wednesday approved the proposal.

An estimated 50 million devotees visit Sabarimala every year, a hill-top temple, during its three-month-long pilgrimage season. But the journey has been an arduous task for the pilgrims, whose numbers have only been increasing year after year.

The closest they could get by road is Erumely, some 45kms away in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district, and from there they would climb up the hill. The nearest airport is 80kms away in Thiruvananthapuram, and the second nearest is 113kms away in Kochi.

This had led to successive governments think of building an airport near Sabarimala. The current government had set up a three-member panel to study its feasibility and had given the idea an in-principle nod in February.

The panel has now recommended setting up a greenfield airport on 2,263 acres of land, which goes by the name “Cheruvally estate”, in Kottayam district, and the cabinet has approved it, said an official statement from the government.

The site is as close as 48kms from Sabarimala and is near two national highways, the government said.

The state of just 33 million people already has three international airports, mainly catering to the 2.5 million emigrants to Persian Gulf countries, and another one is in the making.

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