Kerala

No Coast Guard Academy at Azhikkal

Wasted dreams: The site identified for the proposed Indian Coast Guard Academy at Azhikkal, Kannur.

Wasted dreams: The site identified for the proposed Indian Coast Guard Academy at Azhikkal, Kannur.  

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Defence Ministry drops plan citing denial of clearance by Ministry of Environment

The Union Ministry of Defence has dropped the project to establish the Indian Coast Guard Academy at Azhikkal, Kannur.

Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik informed Kerala MP Elamaram Kareem in the Rajya Sabha on Monday that the project had been dropped following the denial of environment and CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) clearances by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

He said the MoEFCC had denied clearance as the project site at Azhikkal fell within the CRZ-1(A) area where no construction is permissible.

The Minister’s reply confirms the concerns raised by the State and conveyed to the Centre.

In January last year, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi drawing attention to the move to shift the proposed academy from Azhikkal to Baikampady, near Mangaluru, in Karnataka.

After the project was approved by the Union Cabinet in 2009, the State government transferred 164 acres of land and the foundation stone for the academy was laid on May 28, 2011 by the then Defence Minister A.K. Antony. Located just 13 km south of the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, the Coast Guard Academy offered the scope for the two institutions to share training infrastructure.

The proximity of the Kannur international airport was cited as another major advantage. However, half of the extent of 164 acres was covered by mangroves, posing a hurdle to the environment clearance by the MoEFCC.

‘₹65 crore spent’

Mr.Vijayan, in his letter to the Prime Minister, had pointed out that the Coast Guard had already spent more than ₹65 crore on the construction of basic infrastructure outside the area covered by mangroves. Any move to shift the project to another location would go against the interests of the State and the country, he had observed, seeking Mr. Modi’s intervention.

Muraleedharan’s charge

On Monday, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan blamed the State government for the Centre’s decision to call off the move. Speaking to the media in New Delhi, he said the State had sat on the Centre’s demand to identify alternative land for the project for over four years.

Mr. Muraleedharan said Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman had also spoken to the Chief Minister about the project.

Mr. Naik’s formal announcement in the Rajya Sabha puts the lid on Kerala’s hopes to retain the academy.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 7:53:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/no-coast-guard-academy-in-kannur/article30140090.ece

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