Centre, State, and airport firm told to file replies before January 31

Work on the Aranmula airport cannot begin till the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issues further orders.

The tribunal, on Tuesday, extended its last month’s interim order restraining KGS Aranmula Airport Ltd. from executing the project at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district. Last month, the Bench had passed the interim order on an appeal filed by K.P. Sreeranganathan, a resident of the area, against the environmental clearance granted to the project. The Bench held that there was substantial question of law relating to concerns with environment and ecology involved in the project. Later, the Aranmula Heritage Village Action Council; A. Padmakumar, former MLA of the Konni constituency; and P. Prasad of Kannankara filed similar appeals before the tribunal.

In its appeal, the Aranmula Heritage Village Action Council said the setting up of the airport and other construction by reclaiming paddy fields would cause serious damage to the environment and the entire area. The order of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests clearly revealed that it had not applied its mind independently, and had not verified any document. The Ministry proceeded on the assumption that the entire property in question was a dry land, the council said.

Negative impact

The other appellants said the Ministry had not properly considered the negative impact of the airport construction on the environment of the area and of the State. The Legislative Committee for Environment of Kerala had unanimously recommended against establishing the airport at Aranmula.

When the matter came up for hearing before the Bench, comprising its judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and expert member R. Nagendran, on Tuesday, R. Krishna Raj, counsel for the Aranmula Heritage Village Action Council, prayed that the tribunal pass an interim order staying the operation of the Ministry order granting environmental clearance to the project proponent.

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