Asserting that the proposed airport here cannot be allowed in view of environmental concerns, the CPI-M led LDF government in Kerala on Saturday launched sowing operations in about 56 hectares of land acquired for the project, promoted by KGS Group. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan kick-started the sowing operations as locals and farmers cheered. The LDF government was not against airports, he said. “We only said the airport cannot be allowed here as it will mean destroying nature and environment. We do not want an airport here. There will be no change in this decision,” Vijayan said.
The LDF government was keen on comprehensive development of the state, he added. Agriculture Minister, V S Sunil Kumar and Water Resources Minister Mathew P Thomas were among those present on the occasion. The land where sowing operations were launched today has been lying fallow for about two decades due to water-logging. About 700 acres of land had been acquired for the project, which has faced protests from environmentalists and local people.
The National Green Tribunal had in 2014 set aside the environmental clearance given by the then UPA government to the project and directed KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd, the promoters, to stop construction at the site. The NGT had passed the order on a petition filed by the Aranmula Heritage Village Protection Action Council. The project also faced stiff resistance from devotees of Sri Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, who said the airport would cause structural damage to the temple.
In an affidavit filed in Kerala High Court in August last, the state government had said it would examine whether a government order granting in-principle sanction to the airport project could be cancelled.
It had also stated that the proposed project area constitutes large extent of paddy and wetland which cannot be legally converted for the purpose of a private company in view of existing legal provisions.