Hundreds of villagers, including tribesmen, under the aegis of the Cheekkalloor -Eranelloor-Mecherry Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti took out a demonstration to the District Collectorate here on Friday to highlight their demand for scrapping the proposal to set up a feeder airport at Cheekkalloor in Wayand district.
Inaugurating the demonstration, C.R. Neelakandan, environmental activist, said that it would be a great catastrophe if the government went ahead with the move to set up the airport by destroying paddy fields.
According to rules, there should be an air distance of 150 km between two airports but, such norms had not been considered here, Mr. Neelakandan said, adding the government was purposefully hiding the facts from the public to help a land mafia, he said. E.N. Neelakandan, president of the Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti, said the villagers of the Eranelloor, Mecherry and Cheekkalloor under the Kaniyampetta and Panamaram grama panchayats would not allow any body to put up a feeder airport by eliminating the livelihoods of nearly 400 families, including tribespeople, in the area.
The protesters also staged a dharna in front of the Collectorate and burned the pamphlets published by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) highlighting the benefits of the proposed airport.
Meanwhile, a meeting of senior officials of various department, representatives of the three-tier local administrative bodies and representatives of various political parties convened by the government to discuss the issue was postponed to another date.
The meeting had been convened as per the decision of a high-level meeting chaired by Minister for Airports K. Babu a few weeks ago in Thiruvananthapuram to discuss the issue further in the wake of mounting opposition against the project.
Though it was announced that Youth Affairs Minister P.K. Jayalakshmi, Managing Director of the KSIDC, M.I. Shanavas, MP, and MLAs of Sulthan Bathery and Kalpetta constituencies would attend the meeting, they did not.
When representatives of all political parties unanimously demanded the presence of the Minister and others to discuss the issue, Additional Divisional District Magistrate postponed the meet.