Renowned Malayalam poet and social activist, Sugathakumari, has called upon the Centre to cancel whatever clearances it had given for setting up a private Greenfield airport at Aranmula that required conversion of a vast expanse of paddy fields, wetland and demolition of hills.
Ms. Sugathakumari was addressing a march staged by the People’s Joint Action Council to the post office at Aranmula for sending a mass memorandum to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday.
She claimed that 72 of the 140 members of the State Legislature, that includes six UDF MLAs, have signed the memorandum.
The poet said the proposed project would be a bane to the heritage village of Aranmula as it would lead to destruction of the age-old agrarian culture and tradition and not to speak of the hazardous socio-environmental implications in store. She said the Aranmula Puncha (paddy land) has been the riparian flood plain area of river Pampa and implementation of the proposed airport project would lead to the river’s death.
Ms Sugathakumari alleged that the State government too has been supporting the private project and has even accepted the 10 per cent equity offered to it by the airport company.
A large number of people, including leaders of different socio-political organisations and women, took part in the march that began from the steps of the centuries’ old Sree Parthasarathy Temple.
V.D. Satheesan, C.P. Mohammed, Palode Ravi, T.N. Prathapan, all Congress(I) MLAs; T.A. Ahamed Kabeer, MLA of Indian Union Muslim League and M.V. Shreyamskumar, MLA of the Socialist Janata (Democratic); V.R. Krishna Iyer, former Supreme Court judge; K. Sukumaran, P. K. Shamsuddin, P. S. Gopinathan, all former High Court Judges; Cardinal Mar Baselius Cleemis Catholicos, Archbishop Susaipakiyam, Gabriel Mar Gregorios Metropolitan, Swai Golokananda of Sree Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Sandeepananda Giri, religious leaders; V.M. Sudheeran, O. Rajagopal, Mullakkara Ratnakaran, Panniyan Raveendran, M.A. Baby, C.P. Narayanan, V. Muraleedharan, Binoy Viswom, N.K. Premachandran, political leaders; M.T. Vasudevan Nair, O.N.V. Kurup, literary personalities, and Adoor Gopalakrishnan, renowned film maker, and Kummanam Rajashekharan, Aranmula Heritage Village Action Council chief patron, were among those who have signed the memorandum.
Addressing the march, Mullakkara Ratnakaran, MLA, alleged that it was not at all befitting to a democratically elected Chief Minister to feign ignorance towards the two-year old mass agitation against the airport project. He alleged that Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s statement that the private airport project would be implemented was nothing short of challenging the people who have launched a crusade to protect the paddy land, water and the nature as a whole.
V. Muraleedharan, BJP State president; K. Surendran, BJP State general secretary; Thomas Joseph, RSP State secretariat member; Malethu Saraladevi, KPCC member, K. I. Joseph, CPI(ML)-Red Flag, Kummanam Rajashekharan, P. Induchoodan, AHVAC president; K. Krishnankutty, co-ordinator; P. Prasad, CPI district secretary, and A. Padmakumar, CPI(M) district secretariat member, also addressed the march.
The memorandum was sent by post to the Prime Minister from the Aranmula Post Office, later.