The CPI-M led Opposition today staged a walkout in the Kerala Assembly to protest the Government’s decision to go ahead with the Aranmula Green Field Private International Airport and warned they would do everything possible to stall the progress of the project.
Replying to a notice for an adjournment on the issue, moved by LDF, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the Government was of the view that the airport in Pathanamthitta district should come as part of improving infrastructure facilities in the State.
Chandy criticised the LDF for opposing the project now after according it all the necessary sanctions when they were in power in 2011. He also justified the Government resolve to have 10 per cent stake in the project.
Seeking leave for an adjournment, former Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratanakaran said the previous LDF Government only accorded “sanction in principle” for the project with condition that the promoters, Chennai-based KGS Group, would adhere to legal formalities.
However, now the promoters have violated various State laws and the UDF Government has given “sanctity to illegal activities” of the project with its decision to have 10 per cent stake.
Opposition leader V. S. Achuthanandan brought to the notice the wide protest the project had triggered among the local people and also resistance expressed by senior Congress leader V. M. Sudheeran and well-known poet Sugathakumari.
“In the changed circumstances, I appeal to the Government to reconsider its decision to go ahead with the project,” he said adding ‘it has become a practice for the UDF Government to accuse the previous LDF Government to shield its mistakes’
The Rs 3,000-crore airport project had run into trouble with environment activists coming out against it, holding that it would adversely affect the ecology of Aranmula.
They also alleged that a large stretch of paddy fields and water sources would be converted for purposes of the airport in violation of existing rules and causing environmental damage.
They also questioned the need for a fifth airport in a small State such as Kerala. Besides, Thiruvananthapuram, Nedumbassery and Kozhikode airports, work on the Kannur Airport in North Kerala had already started.