“Aranmula will never be wiped out,” Kummanam Rajashekharan

published on March 11, 2013

Aranmula airport and ongoing agitations: “Aranmula will never be wiped out,” Kummanam Rajashekharan

When KGS Group has been leaving no stone unturned to start work on the Greenfield International Airport project, Kerala began witnessing a unique episode: the emergence of a unified, silent protest group which has snow balled into a mass movement.
The entire hamlet now stands united under Thiruvaranmula Paithruka Grama Samrakashana Samiti (Aranmula Heritage Village Action Council) initiated and spearheaded by prominent social reformer Kummanam Rajashekharan.

Pointing out that promoters (KGS Group) has secured clearance on the strength of fake claims Kummanam says, “It is not just an airport, but an aerotropolis (an airport city). For furthering the selfish interests of a few, an entire village will be converted into a commercial town. All developments focused on the airport were experimented in the US first. It is clear that 3000 acres of land will be used for the purpose.”

Kummanam voices the fear of every living soul associated with Aranmula. “Once completed the heritage village would stand destroyed. Where will the people go? It is not just a handful of families. There are over 3000 families that will stand homeless,” he said.

“How can we let a place so precious as Aranmula become a thing of the past? We have an ancient heritage steeped in antiquity. It is not just religious, it is cultural. All forthcoming generations must see what the Aranmula Vallam Kali is, what the Aranmula Kannadi is. They should enjoy the Aranmula Valla Sadya. If the concrete jungle comes up, our children will only come to know of these through pictures,” he adds claiming that the promoters had a “strong major political-bureaucratic nexus” backing them.

Kummanam’s efforts are tireless. He points out how he had spoken to opposition leader of Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj about the environmental invasion proposed by KGS Group. “The matter was immediately forwarded to the Central Ministry. The reply from Minister of Forests and Environment Jayanthi Natarajan clearly states that the project has not been granted environmental clearance,” he said.

“Clearances were given by the Defence and Civil Aviation Departments for the airport project. But it was on condition that they will be subject to future clearance of the Environment Ministry. Hence, clearances given by both Defence and Civil Aviation Departments now stand invalid,” he states clearly.

“Also, the Defence Ministry had made clearances of Local Self-Government institutions and other government departments mandatory. However no institution ever gave any clearance,” Kummanam added.

Joining the mass movement are people from all walks of life, overlooking political and ideological differences. CPI leader and former agriculture minister Mulakara Ratnakaran is dismayed at the government‘s backing to a private business house in building an airport in violation of rules.

‘You decided to take sweat equity to the tune of 10 percent when the ministry of environment and forests is yet to give its sanction to the project. Moreover, this is an airport that is going to be built on paddy lands, which is a criminal offence. If you are so particular, you should build an airport on dry land,” he says.

Prepared to lay down their lives for blocking any work associated with the destruction of their precious piece of land, the movement has been gaining momentum ever since its inception. Overlooking barriers like caste, creed, religion, social status the villagers of Aranmula have united to save their heirloom from the promoters of Greenfield International Airport.

The words of renowned poetess and social activist surmises the voice of the hamlet inhabitants: “Being a daughter of the heritage village of Aranmula, I strongly believe that food and water are the needs of Pampa river basin and not an airport,”

India is a democracy. True to the spirit of democracy, the citizens’ voice is being raised. True to the spirit of democracy, may the citizens’ verdict reign supreme!

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