JanamTV’s series on ‘Aranmula International Airport and the ongoing agitations

published on March 4, 2013

JanamTV’s series on ‘Aranmula International Airport and the ongoing agitations’ began yesterday. We highlighted how the land was treacherously acquired and later handed over in a callous manner to the KGS group. The same group which is now plunging ahead with its plans of “First Private International Greenfield” Airport in the country, in Aranmula.

With the Aranmula land being handed over to KGS group by Abraham Kalamannil for the purpose of a Rs 2000-crore Aranmula private international airport, details of the project were clearly outlined. Apart from a multi-crore airport project, KGS group plans to entice Keralites with a lucrative all inclusive offer: a multi- specialty hospital, shopping malls, theatres, star hotels and international schools, all being part of the package.

For furthering these plans, KGS Group made an offer of sweat equity and chairmanship to the state government of Kerala, with a declaration that the airport would be operational by 2014. Managing director of the group Gigi George also assured Kerala that all controversies shrouding the project was unwarranted and swore lucidity.

“We want to ensure 100 per cent transparency and will abide by all legal requirements. KGS group already had 450 acres of land with legal validity in its possession. Final clearance from the central ministry of environment and forests was awaited,” he said.

The group now awaits the government’s response regarding sweat equity and chairmanship and any possible change of decision from the Union Ministry of Environment.

Other promises offered by KGS group stand thus:

· An airport having capacity to handle 1,000 passengers at a time

· Facilities like Airbus A-320 and Boeing 747 aircraft

· Creating direct employment for 1,500 people and indirect employment for 6,000 people

Aranmula is a rustic area, where nature stands in all her variegated charms, with the inhabitants of the area living a simple life. Most of the people are engaged in farming and other small scale cottage industry works, the most prominent of them being the Aranmula kannadi. Monuments and events of historic and cultural value also don the place. In short, the government had rightly conferred the appellation of ‘Heritage Village’.

To think that this unsullied charm and cultural treasure trove will be replaced by a pseudo, artificial, westernized township catering to the whims and fancies of a selected class is certainly unwarranted.

The setting up of an airport and township will lead to soaring prices in the area, which cannot be afforded by common place citizens. Without second thoughts, it can easily be gauged that only those who are in the ‘real estate family’ stand to benefit from this.

International schools, multi-specialty hospitals and full fledged modern cinema houses will not cater to the interest of the larger section of ‘a middle class/ below middle class’ society.

Promise of generating jobs for quite a large group also stands unwarranted, as the remuneration offered for a greater segment of employees will not suffice for the newly created life style. Families that have been engaged in jobs that are traditionally handed down will never benefit from Gigi George’s alluring offers.

For the development of Aranmula, to preserve the paddy bowl of Kerala, to further the designation of ‘heritage village’ assigned to it and to enhance native productivity, the state government of Kerala must realize, at the earliest, that an international airport is no plausible solution.

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