Aranmula airport project turns toxic for its proponents

G. K. Nair Kochi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on July 16, 2012

The Aranmula airport project has landed both the previous LDF and present UDF governments in the State in an unenviable situation.

The State industries department reportedly denotified an extent of 2,000 acres, out of an area of 2,500 acres which was notified earlier as an Industrial area in Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district for constructing a private airport following strong opposition from the local public.

Subsequently, the Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, was quoted as saying that “the airport would not require more than 500 acres.” But experts claim that construction of a greenfield airport will require not less than 1,200 acres of land.

Environmental activists, meanwhile, alleged that the Cabinet decision taken on February 8 this year giving the nod for regularisation of converted paddy fields and wetlands prior to January 1, 2005 after imposing a heavy fine of up to 15 per cent of the fair value of land in various categories, was aimed at legalising the already converted flood plains, Aramula punja, parts of a tributary of the Pampa river and some ‘puramboke’ land.

The previous LDF government had, in fact, notified acquisition of the land, including vast stretches of paddy fields in Aranmula, to develop the airport by a private consortium.

The former Chief Minister, Mr V.S. Achuthanandan, who reportedly issued a directive to the Pathanamthitta district collector on January 12, 2010, to initiate immediate steps to ensure land transfer for the Aranmula airport and facilitate construction activities and report the matter to him accordingly, has now surprised everyone by saying that “the airport is not necessary at all.”

Mr Achuthanandan said on Saturday, “Its promoters were found to have violated various laws, which would have a disastrous impact on the villages.”

He alleged that a former Additional Chief Secretary was behind the controversial industrial area notification of a large tracts of land spread across three villages the region.

“The Industrial area notification was aimed at protecting certain vested interests and to destroy the image of the previous LDF government,” he alleged.

The “dream project” seems to have turned sour for both the LDF and the UDF.

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Published on July 16, 2012
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