Running a long drawn resistance movement against construction of a private airport at the heritage town in Aranmula, Bharatiya janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in Kerala are now forced to turn their ire at the Centre in the wake of the Environment Ministry’s nod for an impact study to revive the project.
Kerala’s senior Sangh leader and the patron of Aranmula Heritage Village Protection Council, Kummanam Rajasekharan, said the fight against the move to build an airport in Aranmula would be strengthened in the coming days.
Rajasekharan, who is state general secretary of Hindu Aikya Vedi — an umbrella organisation of several Sangh-allied Hindu outfits, said if the Centre takes an “anti-people stand” on the issue, he would not have any hesitation to consider the NDA government on the rival side.
Criticising the Environment Ministry’s expert appraisal committee’s recent nod for conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed project, he asked the Narendra Modi government to withdraw the “anti-people” decision.
“There are only two dimensions in this struggle. One is pro-people and other is anti-people. We are waging the struggle on behalf of people. If the Modi government sides with the developers of the airport, we have no option but to consider the government on the rival side,” he told PTI.
Prominent Left leader and former Kerala Forest Minister Binoy Viswom, however, said Rajasekharan and Sangh Parivar outfits would not be able to withstand “the pressure tactics of the pro-corporate Modi government.”
“When we look at the whole scenario, the matters are not as simple as Rajasekharan thinks. We have no reservation to consider them as our friends in this agitation, if they take a strong position against the Modi government on this airport issue… But I think they will finally succumb to the pressure by Modi-led government and Amit Shah-led BJP,” Viswom told PTI.
Meanwhile, project proponent KGS group said they would go ahead with the Rs 2,000 crore project and a leading firm in the country will be roped in to conduct its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Rajasekharan alleged that the project proponent KGS group had submitted false documents before EAC to get a nod for conducting the EIA.
The Hindu leader also accused the EAC of not considering the verdicts of the Supreme Court and the Green Tribunal inthe case while considering the fresh proposal moved by the project proponents.
“Aranmula is a temple town and its ponds, small forests,streams, culture and heritage will be destroyed if an airport is constructed. We won’t allow KGS group to construct an airport in the proposed site,” he said.
BJP’s state unit has also strongly come out against the move to construct the airport. Its leaders, including state President V Muraleedharan and National Executive Member P K Krishnadas, have said that they would not allow KGS to go ahead with the project in the proposed site in Aranmula.
Meanwhile, a meeting of political and social leaders held in Thiruvananthapuram yesterday decided to petition Prime Minister Modi against the Environment Ministry’s decision to give permission for conducting the EIA for the proposed airport in Aranmula.
Senior leaders of Left parties, including CPI(M) politbureau member M A Baby attended the meeting held at the behest of poet Sugathakumari and Gandhian G Gopinathan Nair.
Kerala government-headed by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has asserted his government’s full support to construct a private international airport there.
The proposed project in Pathanamthitta district had run into trouble from the very beginning with environmental activists and local Aranmula Heritage Protection Committee coming out against the project.
A CAG report and National Green Tribunal have found violations in getting sanction for the project.
The CAG report tabled in Parliament last year had found a series of violations in the process of getting clearance for the project.