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Irregularities in Aranmula airport issue; CAG slam governments in Kerala

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 - 6:00pm IST | Place: Thiruvananthapuram | Agency: PTI

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.

In its report presented in the Assembly today, 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.

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.

Criticising 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 obstalces in the site, the CAG pointed out.

One of the points raised by the OLS was on the temple mast of the ancient Aramnula 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 permissble level and they need to be removed along with rubber planations and other trees existing on the hills.

Another major finding was that illegal encroachement 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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