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Airport project cleared while VS was the CM: Chandy

Airport project cleared while VS was the CM: Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government Thursday blasted the Left for seeking to build an airport near the Sabarimala temple while in power and opposing it while out of power.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the Aranmula airport would aid pilgrims and bring in revenue to the state.

Chandy pointed out that opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan, while he was chief minister, cleared the airport project in 2011.

"This is unfortunate. While in office, you take one position; while in opposition, you take a diametrically opposite stand," he told the Left in response to demands that the airport project should be reviewed.

KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd is developing the country's first private airport at Aranmula.

The Chandy government recently announced that the state would take 10 percent sweat equity (contribute to effort, rather than to cost) in the airport.

The proposed Rs.2,000 crore airport is coming up about 110 km from the state capital in an area of 500 acres. The famed Sabarimala temple is located 30 km from the site.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) gave its clearance in September.

CPI leader and former agriculture minister Mulakara Ratnakaran told the assembly that it was unfortunate the government was helping a private business house to build the 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," Ratnakaran said.

"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."

Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash showed the house documents signed by then chief minister Achuthanandan asking the district collector in Pathanamthitta to see that sanction was given to the project.

This was reportedly done after district authorities objected to the airport.

Achuthanandan said while it was true that the Left government approved the airport, the scenario had changed as locals were against the project.

He expressed fears that if paddy fields were filled up, drinking water storage might be affected.

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