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MLAs’ plea to PM against Aranmula airport project

MLAs’ plea to PM against Aranmula airport project

Pathanamthitta: People from different walks of life, including 72 legislators, some from the ruling Congress—led UDF, Saturday signed a mass petition urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to withdraw central approval for the private greenfield airport at Aranmula in the district on the ground that it posed a threat to the environment.

The MLAs, who signed the petition included AICC secretary V D Satheesan, M V Shreyams Kumar (SJD) and T N Prathapan (Cong), known as “green” legislators.

One of the MLAs, C P Muhammad (Cong) later clarified that he did not sign the memorandum though he shared the concern of his colleagues over the ecological threat posed by the proposed airport, being developed by an investors’ consortium KGS Group.

The project has acquired most of the central clearances and enjoys backing of the UDF Government, which has also a nominal stake of 10 per cent in the venture.

A local resistance group called Aranmula Heritage Protection Council, which has the support of various political parties and cultural outfits, has been campaigning against the project arguing that vast stretches of paddy fields will be lost if it is allowed, causing serious environmental problems.

The promoters of the project, however, rejected this contention holding that much of the land acquired for the airport has been lying fallow for decades.

They have justified the need for the airport on the ground that area has hundreds of NRIs working in various parts of the world and is also close to Sabarimala temple, which attracts devotees from all over the country and abroad.

The petition was sent by registered post by campaigners in the presence of the leaders of the movement, including poet and environmental campaigner Sughathakumari, after converging near the famous Aranmula Parthasarathi temple on the banks of the river Pampa.

A copy of the petition has also been forwarded to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, they said.


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