An Union Environment Ministry panel has recommended clearance for developing a Rs.2,000-crore international private airport at Aranmula.
The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for Building Construction, Coastal Regulation Zone, Infrastructure Development and Miscellaneous projects has recommended the proposal for environmental clearance with conditions, officials said here on Thursday.
The airport, planned to be built on about 500 acres of land at Mallappuzhassery in Aranmula, has been hit by a controversy after the Opposition Left Democratic Front and a section of local people alleged that it would have disastrous environmental consequences and cause displacement of families.
An estimated 500 acres of paddy field has to be converted for the proposed airport, which is claimed to be the first private international greenfield airport in India, being developed by KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd, they said. While the company has informed the Ministry panel that the project will be developed at a cost of Rs.81.18 crore for the first phase and Rs.125.44 crore for the second phase, its website claims that the plan is for an airport covering about 700 acres of land to be built at a cost of Rs.2,000 crore.
When contacted, a KGS Corporate House spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the website. The EAC, which examined the news reports that the project site included wetlands and paddy fields, had sought the comments of the Kerala government and the proponent. In its reply, the proponent had said the State government has notified 500 acres of land for development of the airport and there is no paddy cultivation there for the past ten years.
The Principal Secretary of the State’s Environment Department has stated that an enquiry was conducted based on the ‘‘averments contained in the news item’’ and said the government, vide notification, had declared the land as an industrial area.