Aranmula airport project will cause havoc on ecological balance: Kerala State Biodiversity Board report

published on March 17, 2013

Trouble seems to be brewing for the KGS Group and their plans of a Greenfield International Airport at Aranmula, with the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) expressing serious reservations over the project and the untold hazards it will usher. According to a report by the KSBB, an airport city and change of use in land will result in severe ecological imbalance. The report has been submitted to the government.

“Conversion of paddy fields and water bodies for the construction of the airport would lead to water scarcity as well as flooding in the neighbouring areas,” says the third report of th. e Legislative Committee on Environment.

“Of the 500 acres earmarked for the project, 400 acres are paddy field. The runway for the airport is being constructed over the Kozhithode canal, a tributary of the Pamba. Many hills in the neighbourhood will have to be razed for soil to reclaim the fields, a process that could lead to biodiversity loss and water shortage,” the report says.

The report submitted to the government says that conversion of a portion of the 3,500-acre paddy field would impact surrounding wetlands, disturb food chain, and accelerate depletion of fish resources as well as other flora and fauna in the Pamba river basin.

The study conducted by KSBB observed upstream migration of several species of fish from the river through canals to water-logged paddy fields. “Reclamation of wetlands would deprive the fish of their breeding grounds,” says the report.

The report stressed the need to identify and protect the breeding grounds of fish and release hatchlings into the canal. It also called for an environment monitoring mechanism involving panchayat-level Biodiversity Management Committees.

The board recommends a series of conservation programmes to ensure that the airport project did not impact on the biodiversity of the region. It has cautioned against filling up of canals in the project site. “A massive afforestation campaign that will create a green belt around the airport and hills that were razed for soil,” observes the report.

The importance of rainwater harvesting system has been highlighted, with the report warning promoters of the airport being responsible for the supply of drinking water in the parched areas in the vicinity. It called for a joint effort by the Department of Agriculture and panchayats in the neighbourhood of the project site to continue paddy farming in the remaining fields.

The Rs.3,000-crore project put forth by KGS Group has been facing stiff opposition from environment activists and villagers, affecting the ecological ibalance of the place, it will wipe of a glorious cultural heritage and displace an entire society. Detractors also question the need for a fifth airport in a small State like Kerala.

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