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Struggle against airport gets wider support

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor
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Sudheeran’s protest will be embarrassing to the government

Green belt:Buffalos grazing in Aranmula Puncha that has been identified as the site for the proposed private airport project in Aranmula.—PHOTO: Leju Kamal
Green belt:Buffalos grazing in Aranmula Puncha that has been identified as the site for the proposed private airport project in Aranmula.—PHOTO: Leju Kamal

With the Aranmula airport project coming under fire from even senior Congress leaders, the State government will have some explaining to do about the standing of the project in an eco-sensitive area.

The senior party leaders V.M. Sudheeran and Peelipose Thomas have said that the project is anti-people and a legal misadventure which can embarrass the government.

Sugathakumari, poet, has moved the Kerala High Court, citing the hazardous socio-environmental impact of the project.

An action council, comprising people of various political persuasions, is campaigning against the project.

The Communist Party of India and its farm workers’ outfit have launched a land right struggle, pitching 300 makeshift dwellings on the “excess land” with the Chennai-based KGS Group, which is executing the project.

As much as 26 hectares of paddy land and a portion of a natural stream have been reclaimed for the project allegedly in violation of the law.

District Collector V.N. Jithendran has declared 93 hectares of land sold by K.J. Abraham Kalamannil to the KGS Group as excess land and directed the Revenue authorities to “nullify the mutation and retain the land in the previous Thandapper.”

The Kerala State Land Board has found grave irregularities in the land deals reached in connection with the project and has recommended a Vigilance investigation.

The Aranmula Puncha is the part of flood-plain areas of the Pampa. Mr. Sudheeran and Mr. Thomas have said that stopping cultivation in the paddy fields and branding them barren or fallow land with dubious design to protect the interests of the land mafia is a dangerous trend.

Kummanam Rajashekharan, action council patron, says the clearance given to the airport project by the Defence Ministry remains a puzzle, considering Mr. Antony’s earlier stand that “no clearance can be given for the proposed Aranmula airport as it comes within the flying zone of INS Garuda in Kochi,” Mr. Rajashekharan says.

V.S. Vijayan, former Chairman of the State Biodiversity Board, who conducted an independent study in Aranmula, says the environment impact assessment report prepared by a Madurai-based firm for the KGS Group for the project is full of incorrect data.


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