Proposed international airport project at Aranmula

District Collector Pranab Jyotinath convened an official meeting at the collectorate here on Friday afternoon to discuss the cases pending before court in connection with the proposed international airport project at Aranmula.

The meeting was a sequel to the high-level meetings convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Chief Secretary E.K. Bharat Bhushan during the past one week, exploring the possibility of implementing the private airport project, overcoming the legal issues involved.

Friday’s meeting was attended by P.T. Nandakumar, executive director of the airport company; H. Salimraj, Additional District Magistrate; Sabu Thomas, district government pleader; and A.T. Sureshkumar, Deputy Collector (Land Reforms), who is also the chairman of the Taluk Land Board, official sources said.

The Chief Minister has reiterated on more than one occasion the government’s firm decision to support the airport project. The government has even accepted the 10 per cent sweat equity offered to it by the promoter company, KGS Aranmula International Airport Limited, a few months ago.

According to official sources, the key point of discussion at both the high-level meetings in Thiruvananthapuram was ways to wriggle out of the legal issues.

Agitation

The government decision to support the project draws flak from local people and leaders of various mainstream political parties, including certain Congress leaders. They oppose the move to convert the Aranmula paddy land (puncha) into an airport. The local people have been waging an agitation against the project under the banner of the Aranmula Heritage Village Protection Council and the Joint Action Council for the past two years.

The Kozhencherry Taluk Land Board had declared 232 acres of land at Aranmula that forms part of the proposed airport site as excess land, invoking the provisions of the Kerala Land Reforms Act a few months ago.

The board has registered a case against KGS for possessing land exceeding the limit of 15 acres at Aranmula.

Meanwhile, Sugathakumari, poet and chairperson of the Joint Action Council, has alleged that the presence of a KGS official at the Pathanamthitta collectorate on Friday was nothing but a continuation of a series of illegal acts to protect the interests of the private company. The government, she said, should clarify on what grounds it had permitted the KGS official to attend the official meeting.

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