Idukki airstrip lands into controversy

Airstrip at Idukki  

The Idukki airstrip of the National Cadet Corps is in the centre of a controversy with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) seeking a report on the mandatory clearances for the project.

The Authority has sought a report from the Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala, as apprehensions have been raised about the impact of aircraft movement on the wildlife and also the possible pollution aspects.

“The Authority has also sought a report from the Bangalore office of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on the project. We are yet to receive the report,” said Amit Mallick, Inspector General, NTCA.

There were complaints that the runway of the proposed project was located just 600 metres away from the boundary of the tiger reserve. As the project is located within the 10km radius of the tiger reserve, the statutory clearance of the National Board for Wildlife (NBW) is necessary, said M. N. Jayachandran, the complainant.

The construction or upgradation of any new road within one kilometre of the boundary of a Protected Area needs the clearance of the national board, he said.

Though the holding was taken back from the Forest Department and handed over for the airstrip project, the land still has the status of forest and it features in the annual Working Plan of the Kottayam Forest Division, said Georgi P. Mathachan, Chief Conservator of Forest (High Range Circle).

The Forest Department has no formal communication regarding the project or its environmental impact, he said.

Brigadier P. K. Sunilkumar, Deputy Director General, NCC Kerala, said the PWD, was implementing the project, on the holding identified by the NCC.

C. K. Prasad, the former Assistant Executive Engineer, PWD, who oversaw the implementation of the project said Environmental Impact Assessment was not required as the project cost was less than ₹10 crore. The cutting of hills and filling of land was carried out without leaving any ecological impact. The NBW clearance was not sought as the tiger reserve was not notified at the time of the commencement of the work. Till date, the Forest Department has not objected to the project, he said.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 4:15:55 AM |

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