Kerala govt faces heat over Aranumla airport project

Last Updated: Friday, December 27, 2013 - 18:53

Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led UDF Government in Kerala is facing the heat for recommending the private airport project at Aranmula by allegedly hiding information regarding reclamation of paddy fields and wetlands by promoters in violation of the state rules.

The project, promoted by the KGS group, was given green clearance by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in November last based on the recommendation of the state government, which also holds a limited stake in the airport.

A copy of the purported file in this regard that came out in local media today showed that the state government has hidden a note by the Principal Secretary, Environment, that pointed out that part of the land was filled by the developers.
This note was allegedly glossed over by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Industries Minister PK Kunhalikutty while pressing the project to get the centre`s environmental clearance.

Reacting to the report, Kunhalikutty said in normal case such a file need not have come to the consideration of his department.

The issue, however, sparked instant protests from the ruling Congress itself with party MLA TN Prathapan calling for urgent corrective steps.

"If the Chief Minister was misled by some one, he should correct the mistake," Prathapan, part of a group of UDF MLAs known as "green legislators", told news channels.

Right from the start, the Rs 2000-crore project located in the heritage village in Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district has been under fire from environmentalists and local resistance group.
The initial in-principle go-ahead for the project was given by the previous LDF Government but the Left parties are also now opposed to it.

The anti-airport campaigners argue that it posed a threat to the sensitive ecological system of the area and vowed to continue their struggle.

The KGS Group, however, has denied this charge holding it would be developed without doing any damage to the environment or harming the heritage and culture of the area.

PTI

First Published: Friday, December 27, 2013 - 18:53

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