Conduct CBI Inquiry into Illegally Constituted Aranmula Airport Project: Kummanam Rajashekharan.

published on July 11, 2014

The Hindu Aikya Vedi and Aranmula Paithrika Gramakarma Samiti have sought an independent CBI inquiry into the matter concerning Aranmula Airport following the report submitted by Comptroller and Auditor General. According to the report, the state government has stood party to breach of law in the case of Aranmula Greenfield International Airport project. Samiti convenor Kummanam Rajashekharan has categorically stated that those involved must be brought to book.

“The department, which was supposed to take the necessary action, was made a mere specter in the matter. In spite of knowing that there are discrepancies, the government proceeded to take shares in the company. The CAG has pointed out that land was given to the company following breech of laws. The CAG’s directive of conducting a detailed inquiry into the initiation of the project which has caused the inhabitants of the area much inconvenience,” said Kummanam Rajashekharan.

“The KGS Group has proceeded to venture into the project without a proper study of availability of land. This was clear from the very beginning. Hence there should be a CBI inquiry into the matter,” pointed out Kummanam Rajashekharan.

The recently submitted CAG report points out grievous flaws, right from secretariat to the rungs below. Comptroller and Auditor General of India has rapped successive governments in Kerala over irregularities by the promoters in acquiring land for the private airport project at Aranmula, work on which has been halted recently by Chennai bench of National Green Tribunal on environmental grounds. The CAG has sought an independent inquiry into the matter. It has also sought a detailed study into the necessity of a fifth airport in a tiny state like Kerala.

According to reports, an independent inquiry into the matter is now being recommended to look into the various departments of the Secretariat that have lent support to the illegal prceedings and also the various lapses that have taken place on behalf of the government.

In its report presented in the Assembly, the CAG said there was a failure of government machinery right from the lowest revenue officials to the highest level in preventing an individual from illegal acquisition of land, encroachment of government land, filling of paddy fields and transferring part of the same land to the airport company, promoted by Chennai-based KGS Group.

The CAG report states that the project was accorded various clearances in violation of several laws and on the basis of false reports. Successive governments have been blamed for promoting illegalities. The CAG report has listed each of the lapses since the project was given in principle clearance by the Left Democratic Front government in 2004. The CAG said that the present Congress-led United Democratic Front government had approved violations by deciding to participate in the project.

According to the report, “Chennai-based KGS Group, which has been promoting the Greenfield airport project, had acquired land and reclaimed paddy fields, in violation of Kerala Land Reforms Act and provisions of Kerala Conservation of Paddy and Wet Land Act.” The CAG report also accused KGS Group of “securing environment clearance by furnishing false facts.”

The report said that the project was approved without economic viability of a fifth airport in the state. The project had hit a roadblock with the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directing KGS International Airport Ltd quashing in May this year the environment clearance accorded to the project.

On the principle approval given by the previous CPI(M) led LDF Government in September 2010, the report said it was accorded without verifying whether the developer has sufficient land for the project.

“The government also did not look into the impact of the proposed airport on the four existing or under-construction international airports which are within 150 kms,” it said.

Referring to the present Congress-led UDF Government’s decision in January 2013 to accept the equity offered by the airport company, the report said “the government became a party to the illegal filling of land, encroachments, environmental and ecological problems.”

It further said the company obtained environmental clearance for the project through false submissions. Criticizing the Central Environment Department, the report said “the department, instead of considering the environmental and ecological aspects, took a stand favourable to the proposed project.”

A survey report of the three member expert committee appointed by Airport Authority of India (AAI) on Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS), observed certain obstacles in the site, the CAG pointed out.

One of the points raised by the OLS was on the temple mast of the ancient Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple situated 905 metres away from the proposed airport runway. The temple mast is 30.8 metres high, but the permissible elevation is just 23.7 metres.

OLS also said four hills in the vicinity of airport have height more than the permissible level and they need to be removed along with rubber plantations and other trees existing on the hills.

Another major finding was that illegal encroachment had taken place in a stream of about seven kilometre long and four metres wide which runs across the paddy fields of three villages including Aranmula.

This is one of the major charges along with other environment and ecological issues raised by local resistance group and Aranmula Heritage Protection Committee which has been agitating against the project from the very start itself.

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