Says clearance given on the basis of wrong information
The Pampa Parirakshana Samiti (PPS), a Kozhencherry-based environmental group that has been campaigning for the cause of the Pampa river for the past two decades, has called upon the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to cancel the clearance granted to the greenfield airport project at Aranmula.
In a letter to the Secretary, MoEF, PPS general secretary N.K. Sukumaran Nair alleged that the clearance granted by the Environmental Appraisal Committee (F No. 10-51/2010-IA) for the KGS Aranmula Greenfield Airport project was based on certain “undisclosed and incorrect information, without considering the ground reality.”
The eco group says that the project area is a “wetland and a riparian floodplain area of river Pampa and a fragile eco system.”
On Kozhithode stream
According to Mr. Nair, 347.556 acres of paddy fields have to be converted for the airport project. This had not been mentioned in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report submitted to the MoEF. Conversion and reclamation of wetlands, for non-wetland use, is prohibited, he says.
The letter further states that the small stream mentioned in the EIA report is the origin of Kozhithode stream, which empties out into the Pampa at Edayaranmula. This stream is a major water source for the agricultural lands in Aranmula, Kidangannoor and Mallappuzhasserry villages.
The PPS leader alleges that environmental clearance had been given to the airport project with some conditions, disregarding the reservations raised by the samiti and against the spirit of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy land and Wetland Act.
Mr. Nair says already many wetlands have been converted for the project. The wetlands, along with the Kozhithode stream, is the lifeline of Aranmula and surrounding villages for the role they play in groundwater replenishment. Blocking of the Kozhithode stream, which is also a natural flood escape route linking the wetlands with the river Pampa, will lead to irreparable damage to the environment and the biodiversity of the region, he adds.
He has urged the Ministry to send an appraisal committee comprising experts to Aranmula and get a more realistic environmental appraisal of the project. The private consultants who prepared the EIA report on the project and had misled the Ministry should be blacklisted, he says.
The PPS leader has also written to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy saying that though the private company has been campaigning for a Rs.2,000-crore airport at Aranmula, in its project report submitted to MoEF, it has listed the total project cost as just Rs.206.6219 crore.
The letter says that the airport project, if implemented, will destroy heritage sites with close links to places of worship such as the centuries old Sree Parthasarathy Temple. Moreover, Aranmula has been identified as a heritage village by the United Nations Development Programme.
He has also demanded a probe into aspects of the project that include illegal conversion of paddy fields, financial sources of those involved, circumstances that led to obtaining of clearances for the project, and declaration of 500 acres of land as industrial area by the Industries Department.
Paddy cultivation must be revived in the fertile Aranmula puncha, thus strengthening the State's food security, he adds.
Says the project area is a wetland Calls for a realistic eco appraisal of project
Says the project area is a wetland
Calls for a realistic eco appraisal of project