An Environment Ministry panel has recommended clearance for developing a controversial Rs 2,000 crore international private airport in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district.

The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for Building Construction, Coastal Regulation Zone, Infrastructure Development and Miscellaneous projects has recommended the proposal for environmental clearance with conditions, officials said.

The airport, planned to be built on about 500 acres of land at Mallappuzhasserry in Aranmula, has been hit by controversy after the opposition LDF and a section of local people alleged that it would have disastrous environmental consequences and cause displacement of families.

An estimated 500 acres of paddy field has to be converted for the proposed airport, which is claimed to be the ‘first Private International Greenfield’ airport in India being developed by KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd, they said.

While the company has informed the Ministry panel that the project will be developed at a cost of Rs 81.18 crore for phase I and Rs 125.44 crore for phase II, its website claims that the plan is for an airport covering about 700 acres of land to be built at a cost of Rs 2,000 crore.

When contacted, a KGS Corporate House spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the website.

The EAC, which examined the news reports that the project site included wetlands and paddy fields, had sought the comments from the Kerala government and the proponent.

In its reply, the proponent had said the state government has notified 500 acres of land for development of the airport and there is no paddy cultivation for past ten years there.

The Principal Secretary of state government’s Environment department has stated that an enquiry was conducted based on the “averments contained in the news item” and informed that the government vide notification had declared the land as an industrial area.

(This article was published on September 13, 2012)
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