The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the proposed Aranmula airport has been allegedly prepared on “cooked-up data” and incorrect information, according to the Pampa Parirakshana Samithy (PPS), an NGO.
“The proposed project site is an ecologically fragile system. It is not only a wetland and paddy field but is also a flood-prone area of the Pampa river,” Mr N.K. Sukumaran Nair, general secretary, PPS, told Business Line.
An extent of 347.5 acres of land in the proposed site is paddy field. But, “it is not mentioned in the EIA report while it is mentioned in the report that there is a small stream flowing near the project site.”
In fact, it is not a stream but is the main tributary, the Kozhithodu, of the Pampa river, he said. “It is an important water source for agriculture lands in nearby villages and for drinking water in the region,” Mr Nair said.
Quoting experts, Mr Nair said that for setting up of a green field airport at least 1,200 acres of land is required. That meant acquisition of more land, mostly wetlands and paddy fields in the region spreading over Aranmula, Mallappuzhassery and Kidangannur villages, involving eviction of many families, he alleged.
Threat to ecology
In fact, the filling up of vast stretches of paddy fields and wetland systems, which are in many cases “the flood plain areas” and natural reservoir helping recharge the water flow into rivers, will be detrimental to the ecology of the region, Dr Thomas P. Thomas, an academic, told Business Line.
Surprisingly, the airport is proposed in Aranmula, a hamlet declared as a heritage village of India by the India National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
It is understood that the stipulated minimum distance between two greenfield airports should be 150 km, but the air distance from Aranmula to Thiruvananthapuram and Cochin International Airports (Nedumbassery) is said to be around 100 km only.