The proposal for a Rs 2,000-crore greenfield airport at Aranmula in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district has sparked off strong opposition from people in three villages who fear the project would lead to the eviction of hundreds of families, apart from the reclamation of large tracts of paddy fields, and other environmental degradation.
In the face of mounting public protest, an all-party meeting was convened by the District Collector of Pathanamthitta recently to discuss the proposed project; it called upon the Government to rescind its notification declaring 500 acres as industrial zone in Aranmula, Mallappuzhassery and Kidangannur villages.
It decided to halt all proceedings on the proposed project until the notification was withdrawn.
Aranmula has been declared a heritage village by the India National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
The People's Action Council at Aranmula plans to organise a day-long fast on Sunday to protest against the proposed private international airport project; Council leaders including Mr K.S. Suresh, Mr R. Geethakrishnan, Mr Vijayan Achari said this would be the beginning of a popular agitation against the controversial airport project and related unscientific development schemes.
They said half of the 170-acre Aranmula puncha (paddy field) had already been converted in the name of the proposed airport, and further reclamation of not less than 400 acres of waterlogged paddy fields is required for the project.
They alleged that the project would evict not less than 3,000 families, aside from causing irreparable and devastating damage to the environment and ecosystem.
The proposed greenfield airport would destroy many of the characteristics that qualified Aranmula as a heritage village, said Dr Thomas, an academic and environmental activist.
The promoters were quoted as saying that the proposed international airport was a Rs 2,000-crore project and that eight households at the project site had agreed to vacate the land. They said there was “no question of forcibly evicting any family.”