Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

PATHANAMTHITTA: The immediate priority of the Mount Zion Trust which owns about 300 acres at Aranmula is to set up a flying school, says Abraham Kalamannil, trust chairman and managing director of Aranmula Aviation Limited (AAL).

Talking to The Hindu on Thursday, Mr. Kalamannil said the AAL proposal for an airport at Aranmula was very much alive, though the Civil Aviation Department is yet to give the official sanction.

Responding to recent statements made by T.K. Raveendran Nair, AAL director, Mr. Kalamannil said the “company does not have any landholding of its own as the Mount Zion Trust is yet to transfer the land earmarked for the proposed airport.”

He said the AAL had to get the land before making any official announcement on the airport project.

He said the Mount Zion Trust had purchased 300 acres at the Aranmula Puncha for developing a flying school for the aeronautical engineering course at its engineering college at Kadammanitta. The idea of developing it into an airport was on the basis of expert advise.

Mr. Kalamannil said the AAL was a registered company with a paid up capital of Rs.3 crore.

The company chaired by P.S. Nair, a Kochi-based businessman, has two more directors, Mr. Raveendran Nair and Thomas Samuel, besides Mr. Kalamannil.

According to Mr. Kalamannil, as per an agreement signed between the Mount Zion Trust and AAL a year ago, the former will have to transfer the landholding to the company in a time-bound manner.He said the AAL authorities, accompanied by local MLA K.C. Rajagopalan, had approached Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan seeking governmental support for the airport project.

The Chief Minister agreed in principle that the State could become a shareholder, besides offering support to the project, he added.

The government, Mr. Kalamannil said, would have to acquire 100 acres, besides the 300-acre property with the Trust, for implementing the airport project.

He said the company was yet to prepare a technical feasibility report for the project and that it had consulted a Mumbai-based company a few months ago.

On the alleged illegal conversion of a vast expanse of paddy fields at the puncha, the AAL spokesman said the government was yet to give permission for land conversion, though the trust had submitted application a few years ago.

Airstrip

He said an airstrip for the proposed flying school was getting ready at Aranmula and the Trivandrum Flying Club had offered technical collaboration for operating flights between Thiruvananthapuram and Aranmula.

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