The ‘Airports in India’ report by Equitable Tourism Options (Equations), is a useful critique of government plans for massive airport expansion. Published in May 2015, the report is skeptical regarding the viability of plans to construct 200 new airports over the next two decades, when most of India’s established airports operate at a loss. Vast amounts of public expenditure on airport infrastructure would benefit only a small wealthy minority, in a country where 22 per cent of the population live below the poverty line.
In many instances new airport plans are rushed, without proper consultation of the local community and the requisite environmental clearances. Several Indian airport projects have met with opposition from affected communities. The Bhogapuram airport project has seen massive protests by farmers (also see GAAM blogposts from 15th April and 17th April 2015). Airports in Sikkim and Aranmula have been stalled by community protests. There has also been vigorous opposition to privatization of Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai airports. Chennai Airport is thought to have 2,000 acres of land which the private operator can lease for facilities like five-star hotels. The report urges the government to reconsider new airports in favour of upgrading existing airports.