The National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, on Tuesday stayed all activities related to the construction of a greenfield airport at Aranmula until further orders.
The tribunal also stayed a Kerala government notification converting 500 acres of wetland into industrial land in Pathanamthitta district and barred other connected activities of KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd. It granted an interim injunction restraining the private company from proceeding with further construction on the land in question.
The Bench, comprising judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and expert member R. Nagendran, admitted an application filed by the Aranmula Heritage Village Protection Action Council challenging a Kerala government order granting in-principle sanction in 2010 for the proposed airport and a subsequent notification in 2011. In an application filed through counsel Ramesh Kumar Chopra, the Aranmula council said the government’s action allowing the private airport violated provisions of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy and Wetland Act, 2008 and other laws. It sought a direction against constructing the airport at Aranmula on wetland and paddy field and to retake the excess land from the company by invoking provisions of the Kerala Land Reforms Act.
“In view of the policy decision of the Union government, no greenfield airport can be constructed or operated within a prohibited aerial distance of 150 km from an existing civilian airport without prior permission. In the absence of any special permission from the Union government, the company has no right to proceed with the construction,” the applicant said.
When the matter came up for hearing, Era Meiyappan, counsel for the applicant, submitted that the private company had purchased the property, including paddy fields, wetlands, and trees. They diverted a watercourse that runs into the Pampa and also converted all paddy fields for the construction of the airport. “The construction activity is detrimental to ecology and environment. If it is not stopped, it will cause huge environment impact,” the counsel contended.
After hearing the counsel’s submission, the tribunal said it was satisfied that the petitioner had made a prima facie case for grant of interim stay.
Posting the matter to April 30, the tribunal ordered issue of notices to the Union and State governments. for replies.
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