Coming down heavily on what they called the dubious stand of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on the Aranmula airport issue, Aranmula Heritage Village Action Council has warned of serious repercussions in the event of going ahead with the airport project which has been granted approval violating all norms.
Addressing a news conference here on Tuesday, Action council patron and Hindu Aikya Vedi general secretary Kummanam Rajasekharan said they would strongly oppose the efforts by KGS group and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to construct the airport reclaiming the wetland, paddy fields and destroying the mangroves and water bodies.
He said the Chief Minister’s announcement that the construction work of the airport project would be started in January itself was a challenge to the people of Aranmula. He said the council would formulate the agitation plan in association with other organisations.
Kummanam alleged that the airport company KGS group had obtained the clearance from various departments by submitting forged documents. The information obtained under RTI Act shows that they had not received any exemption under the Wetland Conservation Act or Land Ceiling Act.
He pointed out that State Environment Impact Assessment Authority’s report has not been submitted so far.
The company had submitted false affidavit saying that the land selected for the project was neither paddy field nor water body. The recommendation made on the basis of this had not been accepted by the Union Environment Ministry.
He pointed out that the District Collector had cancelled the mutation of 242 acres of land as it was surplus land. As per the Land Reforms Act, the company has the right to possess only 15 acres. The government has also been abetting the crime by claiming the reclaimed water body and converting it as government’s share, instead of initiating criminal proceedings for encroachment and reclamation of the water body.
He said that the actual plan of the KGS group is not a mere airport but an aerotropolis, an airport city covering about 3000 acres. Constructing an airport-centric city amounts to literally uprooting the residents of the heritage village which had many century-old temple, centuries-old tradition of water regatta and other cultural heritage sites.
Kummanam pointed out that the Defence Ministry had also earlier objected to the airport citing that the area fell under the flying path of Indian Naval aircraft.
Such a project would sound the death knell of the holy river Pampa as the airport project site falls under the river basin and its recharge area.
He alleged that the KGS group is the benami of some political leaders. He said that Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurian, Anto Antony MP and K Sivadasan Nair MLA had been associated with the project.
He alleged that the Chief Minister’s daughter is an employee of the agency Ernst and Young which had produced a report supportive to the airport project.
He also alleged that the Chief Minister’s office had taken special interest in settling the rift between KGS group and Abraham Kalamannil, a real estate group developer.