‘Budget proposals for nature conservation a hoax’

The governemnt should withdraw from the controversial airport project at Aranmula if it was serious and sincere about its recent budget proposals, Communist Party of India district unit secretary P. Prasad has said.

In a statement issued here on Sunday, Mr. Prasad alleged that the budget proposals had got a lot of contradictions with various projects launched by the United Democratic Front (UDF) government and it amply exposed the government’s double standards.

The budget presented by Finance Minister K.M. Mani had proposed the setting up of ‘green villages’ to ensure food safety, water safety, energy safety, and environment conservation and had allocated a total of Rs.42 crore for the same — Rs.3 crore each for the 14 districts.

How could the government justify the proposal when it had decided to take 10 per cent equity in a private airport project that required conversion of a large extent of paddy land, wetland, and natural streams at Aranmula, the CPI leader asked.

Mr. Prasad said it was an irony on the part of the government to announce the setting up of a ‘green village’ in each district on the one hand and destroy the biodiversity and ecological balance of a heritage village like Aranmula in the name of a private airport project.

Drought and water scarcity

The CPI leader said paragraphs 46 and 47 of the budget spoke loudly about the alarming drought situation in the State and stressed the need to initiate effective measures to address the problem that was likely to aggravate in the years ahead. It further announced the decision to launch soil and water conservation measures, quoting a NASA study report on the depletion of ground water table in the State.

He alleged that the budget proposals in this regard were mere humbug aimed at misleading the common people as the government had already given active support for conversion of nearly 500 acres of paddy land, wetland, and natural streams in Aranmula.

Mr. Prasad said people of Kerala were wise enough to understand the government’s machinations to cover up its unholy nexus with the land and real estate lobby by announcing projects for paddy land and wetland protection, besides soil and water conservation.

If the government had any sincerity in its budget proposals, it should take immediate steps to protect the paddy lands, wetland, hills, sacred groves, and the natural streams at Aranmula, he said.

The CPI leader said Mr. Mani’s budget proposals clearly accepted the fact that the issues raised against the controversial airport project at Aranmula were serious and based on scientific reasons. If the government accepted the budget proposals in its true spirit, it should retreat from its decision to support the project, he added.