By Jehan Haniff
Northern Chief Minister C.V. Vigneswaran has vowed that he will not sign any document approving the extension of the Palaly Airport based some eighteen kilometers north of Jaffna town.
Vigneswaran gave this assurance at last Thursday’s Provincial Council meeting in Jaffna where he mentioned that he would “not approve the runway extension without the approval of a majority in the council,” a well informed Tamil political source quoted the CM as saying.
The source told The Island that the assurance was made following Tamil Ealam Liberation Organisation (TELO) spokesman M.K. Sivajilingam’s allegation that over 1,600 acres of additional lands are to be permanently seized from the uprooted Tamils in Valikaam North for the expansion of the Palaly runway.
Provincial Councillor Sivajilingam explained at the meeting that the present Airport runway was enough for even an A320 flight to land and take-off and queried from the CM whether the Government intended making a bigger Airport than Katunayake, the source said adding that most of the twenty-five Provincial Councillors present unitedly supported the TELO stalwart’s position.
According to the same source, one of the members even pointed-out that an A320 Aircraft could fly from Palaly non-stop to New Delhi, Singapore or even Dubai and that was what was offered even at the Katunayake International Airport. The member had even mentioned that there were no direct flights from Katunayake to Washington and Melbourne and why then an arrangement of this nature at Palaly.
An A320 aircraft can accommodate up to 220 passengers and has a range of 3,100 to 12,000 Km depending on model, the source explained.