Kozhikode: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said despite the state government acquiring and allotting the required land, development activities at Kozhikode airport have been moving at a snail's pace. He was addressing the media after a breakfast meeting at Hotel Tripenta on the second day of the Nava Kerala Sadas in the district.
“To develop the runway and safety area of the airport, 14.5 acres of land was acquired and handed over to the Airport Authority in October. Around Rs 95 crore was approved to compensate the 64 families that had to give up their land as part of the project. Delay in the tender procedure is the only hurdle now. The state government has requested the authorities concerned to expedite the process. It is through Karipur airport that the highest number of Hajj pilgrims have gone this year,” said the chief minister.
With regards to Kannur airport, he said the main issue was the non-granting of permission to foreign airlines to operate there. “Even though the airport has all the facilities, the central government is not ready to grant the point of call, which is essential to conduct foreign service. Now, Air India Express and Indigo are the only airlines running services to the Gulf countries. Air India and Go Fast have halted their services. As a result, ticket rates for travel through the airport have skyrocketed. A parliamentary committee had even visited the airport and assessed that it was fit for point of call,” said the chief minister.
He further accused the Centre of being in a hurry to hand over airports in the country to private monopolies. “When airports were placed for tender at the national level, the state government had informed the Centre that it was ready to take over the Thiruvananthapuram airport and to quote the highest amount for it. However, the Centre neglected the proposal and gave it to a private company. In the post-Covid period, the only airport making profits in the country was the state-owned Kochi airport. Even in the US, one of the most prominent proponents of privatisation, the majority of the airports are under state ownership. But the Centre is busy handing them over to private players who fix ticket rates as they wish. This policy has curbed Kannur airport's development,” Pinarayi Vijayan pointed out. He also said both Kannur and Kozhikode airports will be developed till the public gets to access maximum facilities.
Did not disrespect Justice Fatima Beevi, we were away: CM
Pinarayi Vijayan dismissed criticism from some quarters regarding him and his cabinet colleagues not paying homage to the late Justice M Fathima Beevi when the mortal remains were brought to her hometown of Pathanamthitta. The Chief Minister said Justice Fatima Beevi, the first woman Supreme Court judge and former Tamil Nadu governor, was a person of high regard and importance that no one should or could show disrespect towards her.
As the Chief Minister and ministers were away in the northern districts as part of Nava Kerala Sadas, Pathanamthitta District Collector A Shibu laid a floral wreath on her mortal remains on behalf of the government on Thursday.
He told reporters that it was not possible for him and other ministers to go and pay homage to Beevi as they were away. Rejecting the criticism by the local Muslim Jamaath, he said, "It was a fact that no one could participate amidst the (Nava Kerala Sadas) programme... No one disrespected her... She was such a great personality whom no one could disrespect."
Jamaath office bearers had expressed their displeasure over state ministers not coming to pay homage to Justice Beevi. They also slammed the authorities for not declaring a holiday for local schools in the municipality limits. Justice Beevi was laid to rest at the 'qabristan' of the town Juma Masjid in Pathanamthitta on Friday with full state honours.
14,852 petitions submitted on Day 1
On the first day of the Nava Kerala Sadas in Kozhikode, the programme covered the Perambra, Kuttyadi, Vatakara and Nadapuram constituencies. A total of 14,852 petitions were submitted. The programme will cover the Balussery, Koyilandi, Elathur, Kozhikode South and Kozhikode North constituencies on Saturday. The event for Kozhikode North and South will be held as a combined programme at the beach at 6 pm.