Vast stretches of paddy fields dot this village bordering Tamil Nadu. The village had been in the news once for reports of unauthorised sand-mining. Now, it finds itself in the news for another reason — a proposed airport. The district administration has demarcated thousands of acres of land for the airport, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has given its green signal for the project.
Meanwhile, people organised under the Anti-Airport Agitation Council have come out strongly against the move, and a mass blockade has been planned on Wednesday.
The airport is to come up in seven wards of the Chakkupallom and Vandanmedu grama panchayats, in an area marked between Udumbanchola and Peerumade Assembly constituencies.
As per government estimates, around 6,000 families have to be evicted in the land acquisition drive for the airport and its related development. People from the IMS Colony, Girijan Colony, Sulthankada Colony, Naduvanakkara, and Keezhanakkara will have to be evacuated, in addition to a large number of farmers, including those of Tamil origin who have been settled here for years.
No place to go
“Where should we go from this traditional colony, where we have resettled from the forest area?” asked Gracy, an 80-year-old tribal woman from IMS Colony. T.A. Joseph, chairman of the agitation council, told The Hindu that as per a report received by them through the Right to Information Act, the area to be acquired for the proposed airport was 4.5 km in length and 4.7 km in width.
The main area to be acquired included paddy fields with perennial water sources, he said, adding that the wetlands here were the main drinking water source for Kumily town, in addition to the diversion of the main stream from here to Kochera, then to Erattayar and the Idukki reservoir. “About 40 per cent of land to be acquired for the proposed airport is paddy fields, and the rest includes cardamom, pepper, coffee and vegetables cultivations, along with residential areas,” he said.
The claim by authorities that just an airstrip was planned on the proposed land and only 500 acres of land would be acquired was to cool down the strong opposition, he said. However, the agitation council had begun its campaign, distributing copies of the accessed report to the people. “The government has no alternative plan to rehabilitate the large number of people here, and those uprooted will be neglected once the project is realised. We will fight to the end against it,” he said.
“The proposed airport is expected to promote tourism, but how can one promote tourism by destroying a beautiful hill and a scenic village,” asked T.G. Purushothaman, chief patron of the council.
AAI has given its nod for the project Mass blockade planned on Wednesday
AAI has given its nod for the project
Mass blockade planned on Wednesday