Thiruvananthapuram:The proposed Rs.2,000-crore KGS Aranmula international airport project in Kerala suffered a huge setback Wednesday when a tribunal cancelled its environment sanction.
After a legal battle between the airport`s promoters and five organisations based in Aranmula, the Chennai bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Wednesday ruled that the agency which conducted the environment study was not competent to give an environment clearance for the proposed airport.
Cancelling the environment clearance, the bench directed that no work should be undertaken at the airport site.
The airport complex, said to be the first private international airport in the country, is based in Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district in an area of 700 acres.
The KGS Aranmula International Airport Company has 500 acres in their possession.
The proposed airport is located about 110 km from the state capital and 30 km from the famed Sabarimala temple.
State Minister for Ports and Excise K. Babu, who is in charge of the proposed airports at Kannur and Aranmula, told reporters here after the verdict that the government has not accorded any new sanction for the Aranmula airport.
"We just carried forward what the previous V.S. Achuthanandan government did as it was they who had gone ahead by giving the necessary clearance when they were in power," Babu said.
In November last year, managing director of the proposed airport Gigi George said all the required sanctions for the airport came from the Achuthanandan-led Left government in March 2011.
Soon after Wednesday`s verdict, Achuthanandan told reporters that it was a "victory for the protesters" who have been on an indefinite strike against the airport project for the past 100 days in Aranmula.
"This is a setback for the Chandy government who are hand in glove with the land mafia who are out to usurp huge plots of land in the name of development," Achuthanandan said.
As soon as the verdict came, the protesters took out a procession shouting slogans that they have won the battle.
However, the KGS group said it will take the legal route against the verdict.