The state government’s letter to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests that the promoters of the Aranmula airport project have a right to claim exemption under the Kerala Land Reforms Act has kicked up a row.
The Kozhencherry Taluk Land Board had a few months ago declared 232 acres of land at Aranmula that form part of the proposed airport site as excess land and directed the revenue officials to take possession of it, invoking the relevant provisions in the Kerala Land Reforms Act.
The Environment Secretary states that no permission will be issued for filling the land except for that required for airport activities. The government land will be transferred to the promoter at market price as per established procedure.
The State Environment Department in a letter dated June 1, 2013, states that there were allegations that the company possessed land above the ceiling limits; no exemption was obtained for filling paddy fields as per the statutes before starting land development works; filling of valiathodu/kozhithodu was also violation as the rivers are owned by local bodies and their action amounted to encroachment. “These violations needn’t come in the way of granting environmental clearance provided the proponents rectify the irregularities properly as per law,” Pradeep Kumar said. He also refuted the report of the Salim Ali Foundation that there are extensive wet lands in the village by stating that paddy land is not wetland.