By Sanu George
The Kerala government is seeking investment from its large diaspora for the upcoming fourth international airport in the state at Kannur.
The state-owned Norka-Roots, the agency which looks after the interests of the Kerala diaspora, is set to launch an investment drive among Keralites living abroad, Minister for Diaspora K.C. Joseph said in an interview.
Work is progressing fast to set up a Rs.1,890 crore airport at Kannur. It is expected to open on December 31 this year.
Joseph said the services of numerous Kerala-based groups in many foreign countries would be used to get in touch with prospective investors.
“We will put up complete details of how the investors in the first airport (Cochin International Airport Ltd or CIAL) built under the PPP model have got back their investment by way of dividends in a very short period,” said Joseph.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that every investor has recovered 132 percent of their investment from CIAL.
The total remittance of the diaspora to Kerala is more than Rs.90,000 crore. The number of Kerala emigrants as of 2014 was estimated at 2.36 million, with 90 percent residing in the Middle East.
K. Babu, the state minister for excise and in charge of building the Kannur airport, said that the first thing they did was to bring down the minimum amount of subscription from the Rs.2 lakh fixed by the earlier Left government to Rs.50,000.
“This was done to ensure that even an average Keralite diaspora member who wishes to invest (in Kannur) gets an opportunity,” he said.
“We want more diaspora members to participate in this mega infrastructure project.”
With the first flight to touch down at Kannur on December 31, 45 percent of the runway has been completed along with 25 percent of the terminal building.
The funds for the airport project would come by way of debt and equity, with the state government having 35 percent stake. The remaining equity is coming from the Airport Authority of India, oil major BPCL and private participants.