Focus Canara: Renaming politics or development?

 Focus Canara: Renaming politics or development?
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Focus Canara:
Focus Canara is our initiative to focus on the issues related to the Canara Districts. In this column, we will keep before you the most discussed issue in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, and Uttara Kannada district during a week.
We will not try to target anybody as we know that Journalism is not about taking sides. But this is a small effort to tell what has happened and what would be its impact and what better could have been done.
We thank all our readers for supporting us in our every effort and we look forward to the same support for this column too.
This week’s Focus Canara is on politics of renaming airport. Earlier too we have seen similar politics on renaming important landmarks. The latest one is renaming Mangaluru International Airport.

File photo of Mangaluru International Airport

This week, there were many topics of discussions in Mangaluru City. But one of the interesting ones is about renaming the Mangaluru International Airport.
There were protests, press conferences, and social media campaigns to rename Mangaluru International Airport.

Congress leaders led by Mithun Rai are very keen on naming it after the twin heroes of Tulunadu ‘Koti Chennayya.’ Protests were also held for this.

A group of like-minded people wanted it to be named ‘Tulunadu’ airport. It is a known fact that Veera Rani Abbakka Utsava Samithi (this Committee too has some active Congress leaders) has been pressing to name the airport after the first Queen to fight against the foreign power- the Portuguese. They have been demanding this for over a decade. Many also want it to be named after the social revolutionary sage Brahmasri Narayana Guru. A section of people including Congress leaders want it to be named after Ullal Srinivas Mallya, the father of modern Mangaluru. But there are also many who do not want any change as Mangaluru got its name after Goddess Mangaladevi.

Yes…. certainly it was a good discussion and debate. But amidst this emotional debate, all that we seem to have forgotten is the actual situation of the airport. Most of the demands got a voice after the airport was handed over to Adani Group and after seeing the name ‘Adani Airports,’ on the board.

Believe it or not, the suggested names for Mangaluru airport are more than the destinations to which Mangaluru Airport is connected!!

Every name suggested has its own importance can not be neglected. It is very true that naming the airport is necessary to give an identity and all people have to come to a conclusion to name the airport.

But what about the situation now? Have we forgotten the real issue and gone behind political discussion?

We may boast about being the second ‘International,’ airport in the state. But the destinations we are connected to and the airline companies coming to Kudla is not very encouraging. Except for a few cities in the Gulf, our Mangaluru is still not connected to other countries. Even in India, flights are only to a few destinations.

Passengers from Uttara Kannada and the northern part of Kerala are the main ones who fly from Mangaluru Airport apart from those in DK and Udupi. When we are busy debating about the names, Uttara Kannada is gearing up for the construction of an airport with a runway longer than Mangaluru. Once completed it can handle bigger flights than Mangaluru. As Karwar is near Goa, the excess traffic from Goa may be diverted there.

The Uttara Kannada district administration has already issued notification for land acquisition and also started the process of holding a meeting with the villagers.
On the other side, Kannur airport is operational. The ATF tax at Kannur airport was reduced to boost the traffic there. Naturally, the number of passengers opting to go to Kannur will increase.

Kerala has three major airports and none of them have any name. People there concentrate on increasing airlines and destinations.

In Mangaluru we have seen people continue calling the old names of places and roads despite renaming. Pumpwell circle continues to be called so despite being renamed Mahaveera Circle, Ambedkar Circle is still called Jyothi circle, and it is still Pilikula Nisargadhama instead of Dr. Shivaram Karanth Pilikula Biological Park.

We prefer to call Panje Mangesh Rao Road PM Rao Road and Mahatma Gandhi Road is M G Road. Even if it is renamed we hope it does not continue to be called Mangaluru airport or as KC International Airport (KC- Koti Chennayya).

Koti and Chennayya are not just Heros of Tulunadu but also symbols of self-respect, strength, and sacrifice. Every Tuluva has to respect them and remember them daily. It is an apt move to name the airport after them. But before that Tuluvas should follow their footsteps and maintain their principles.

At a time when the local chieftains (Ballals) were fighting among themselves for supremacy, the twin heroes had sent a message of unity. Instead of just renaming the airport after Koti and Chennayya, political leaders should follow their footsteps and ensure that they unite for the upliftment of not just the airport but the entire Tulunadu.

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