Number game on Aranmula Airport
It is a numbers game between the UDF Government and the LDF on the proposed Aranmula airport. While Chief Minister Oommen Chandy stated in the Assembly on Thursday that the Achuthanandan Govt had notified 2,500 acres for the project, a CPM member clarified on Friday that only 350 acres were involved.
As the controversy dragged on, it was informed that the notification for acquiring 500 acres of land for the airport in the private sector will be issued within two days. Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty has approved the file for striking down the controversial notification issued during the LDF Govt’s tenure declaring around 2,000 acres of land coming under 1,963 survey numbers in three grama panchayats in the Aranmula belt.
Making the announcement in the Assembly on a point of order raised by Mullakara Ratnakaran (CPI), Chandy said that barring an area of around 500 acres, which is enough for developing a greenfield airport, vast areas outside it were notified as an industrial belt earlier. “Only 500 acres in the already notified survey numbers will be earmarked for the project,” he said.
A K Balan (CPM) countered Chandy’s statement and maintained that former Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan had only asked the then Pathanamthitta District Collector to facilitate development of 350 acres of paddy fields in the region for the airport. “Neither a single window board was created nor mandatory sanctions were given,’’ he claimed.
Chandy read out the memorandum forwarded by former CPM MLA K C Rajagopalan to Achuthanandan in November 11, 2010 again, wherein it was stated that fields have already been developed after violating norms and what was needed was a government directive to regularise the conversion of land and facilitate the project.
“Nowhere in the memorandum was the extent of land mentioned. And Achuthanandan has simply asked the collector to give a report after complying with the directive,” he pointed out.
“It was after this that an area of around 2,500 acres was notified as an industrial belt,” he said.