KGS Aranmula airport was never meant to cater to international operations.

published on June 10, 2014
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: KGS Aranmula Airport Ltd had pegged itself as the “first private international greenfield” airport in India, but that was far from the truth.

Appeals accepted by the National Green Tribunal, which led to the cancelling of the Environmental Clearance granted to the Aranmula airport, points to the fact that the proposed airport was meant to cater to smaller aircrafts and only for daytime operations.

Appellants argued that the Environmental Impact Assessment was fraught with inconstancies. The runway length was shown differently; originally as 2300 m and subsequently shown as 2800m. Nowhere was there any mention about what would be the length of runway in Phase-II.

The terminal design in Phase I was stated to be for 60 incoming and 60 outgoing passengers during peak hours in page 2, 21, 22 of the EIA. But, contrarily in page No. 23, it was shown that the airport would cater to 50 incoming and 50 outgoing passengers. The passenger flow itself was a dead giveaway that the KGS Group planned on using the airport for ATR-42 operations.

The minimum runway length (take-off field length) required for a 45-seat turbo prop aircraft is approximately 1040 m, if the runway is located at sea-level with an atmospheric temperature of 15 degrees celsius. The maximum distance the ATR can fly non-stop is only 840 Nautical Miles (1556 km). So there was no question of catering to international operations.

In an appeal to the NGT, K K Royson (former president, Pathanamthitta panchayat), said the Environment Impact Assessment contained no information that would allow one to independently verify where exactly the boundary of the airport would be located and where the key components of the airport such as runway would be located. He argued that the MOEF should not have permitted reclamation of paddy land before finalisation of runway orientation and ascertaining its actual length.

K P Sreeranganathan, a social activist, argued that there was no conceivable way that that a projected 2300 m runway proposed by KGS group would ever fit into the boundary of the site as depicted in figure 1.2 of the EIA, as the maximum lateral distance between the boundaries indicated in figure 1.2 when measured with Google Earth data was only 515 m.

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