Samiti writes to Chandy and leaders of front constituents

The Thiruvaranmula Paithruka Grama Karma Samiti (TPGKS) has called upon leaders of the United Democratic Front (UDF) not to support any move that destroys paddy fields and wetlands in the name of a private airport project at Aranmula.

In an open letter to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, and the leaders of all the UDF partners on Monday, Samiti patron Kummanam Rajashekharan said his request was in the backdrop of the Cabinet decision entrusting the front with taking a decision on matters relating to the government stake in the proposed international airport.

Mr. Rajashekharan said the recent statements of the Chief Minister and Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash that not even a pinch of earth would be allowed to be dumped in the remaining paddy fields in the State made clear the government’s declared policy on the matter.

However, it was a fact that attempts were on to convert paddy fields in the State. A certain land lobby with money power and political clout was bent on converting the paddy fields and wetlands at Aranmula, he alleged.

The Samiti leader alleged that the airport company was violating the Kerala Land Reforms Act and Kerala Paddy Land and Wetland Protection Act, and civil aviation norms and guidelines at Aranmula. This would ultimately deny the people food, water and even their right to live.

It was not desirable that a democratically elected government have any stake in such an ‘anti-people’ and ‘anti-environment’ project, he said.

Mr. Rajashekharan said almost a year had passed since the government notification declaring 500 acres of land at Aranmula as industrial area. The survey numbers published in the notification showed that the extent of land coming under the jurisdiction of the industrial area would not be less than 2,000 acres. Nowhere in India had an international airport been constructed in just 500 acres of land; it required not less than 1,800 acres. It was high time that the UDF leaders realised the machinations of the land lobby in order to convert the paddy land and wetlands.

He said the death of the Pampa was imminent with the conversion of the Aranmula puncha (paddy fields), the natural water source of the river basin. Conversion of the puncha would destroy the agrarian heritage of Aranmula, he said.

Mr. Rajashekharan urged the UDF leaders to visit Aranmula for a first-hand idea of the fragile paddy fields and wetlands.

Besides Mr. Chandy and Mr. Prakash, the open letter has been addressed to Ramesh Chennithala, Hyderali Shihab Thangal, K.M. Mani, P.K. Kunhalikutty, K.R. Gouri, M.P. Veerendrakumar, R. Balakrishna Pillai, M.V. Raghavan, Johny Nellore, Shibu Baby John, K. Muraleedharan, M.K. Muneeer, E.T. Mohammed Basheer, P.J. Joseph, C.P. John, Varghese George, Joy Abraham, and K.R. Aravindakshan.

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