The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has granted environmental clearance for the Aranmula Greenfield International Airport in Kerala sidelining the recommendations submitted by the Kerala Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment.
Talking to The Hindu on Friday, C.P. Mohammed, chairman of the committee, said it was unfortunate that the MoEF had failed to consider the pertinent points raised by the Assembly panel relating to environmental implications before issuing clearance for the project. The chairman, Congress legislator from Pattambi, had written to Union Minister for Environment Jayanti Natarajan on September 27.
The Assembly committee comprising nine members had unanimously prepared its report with recommendations, after holding detailed hearing and taking evidence from the people, government officials, and various organisations.
It said “a thorough study should have been conducted on the geographical and environmental aspects of the place that has been selected for the project. The Industries Department had not made any study or held discussions with the allied departments before giving in-principle sanction for the airport project.”
“The committee cannot agree with development activities that would destroy water sources, acres of paddy fields that have been used for cultivation for centuries and destroying the biodiversity of a locality,” the report said. The committee recommended that the opinion of the inhabitants who would be the direct victims of the environmental implications should be taken into consideration before going ahead with the airport project.
The committee found that a considerable area of unclassified land, including a stream, comes within the 350 acres of land claimed to have been purchased by the KGS Group for the proposed project. “It is surprising why action has not been initiated against those who have earth-filled a public stream and the unclassified revenue land while no prevailing law allows transfer of unclassified land to individuals or private firms,” says the report.
Mr. Mohammed said the committee further recommended an inquiry into the entire issue, besides action against the officials concerned and to retrieve the unclassified land to the government.
“It is reported that the State Environmental Impact Assessment Committee had not conducted any study on the proposed project site. The committee therefore recommends inquiring why such a study had not been taken up and also to inquire into the situation that made the State Pollution Control Board recommend in favour of the KGS Group for getting Defence Clearance before conducting such a study and before hearing the public,” it said.