Friday, April 5, 2013

Green tribunal stays and vacates airport work

Green tribunal stays airport work

Report Source:
The National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, on Tuesday stayed all activities related to the construction of a greenfield airport at Aranmula until further orders.

The tribunal also stayed a Kerala government notification converting 500 acres of wetland into industrial land in Pathanamthitta district and barred other connected activities of KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd. It granted an interim injunction restraining the private company from proceeding with further construction on the land in question.

The Bench, comprising judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and expert member R. Nagendran, admitted an application filed by the Aranmula Heritage Village Protection Action Council challenging a Kerala government order granting in-principle sanction in 2010 for the proposed airport and a subsequent notification in 2011. In an application filed through counsel Ramesh Kumar Chopra, the Aranmula council said the government’s action allowing the private airport violated provisions of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy and Wetland Act, 2008 and other laws. It sought a direction against constructing the airport at Aranmula on wetland and paddy field and to retake the excess land from the company by invoking provisions of the Kerala Land Reforms Act.

“In view of the policy decision of the Union government, no greenfield airport can be constructed or operated within a prohibited aerial distance of 150 km from an existing civilian airport without prior permission. In the absence of any special permission from the Union government, the company has no right to proceed with the construction,” the applicant said.

When the matter came up for hearing, Era Meiyappan, counsel for the applicant, submitted that the private company had purchased the property, including paddy fields, wetlands, and trees. They diverted a watercourse that runs into the Pampa and also converted all paddy fields for the construction of the airport. “The construction activity is detrimental to ecology and environment. If it is not stopped, it will cause huge environment impact,” the counsel contended.

After hearing the counsel’s submission, the tribunal said it was satisfied that the petitioner had made a prima facie case for grant of interim stay.

Posting the matter to April 30, the tribunal ordered issue of notices to the Union and State governments. for replies.

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Green tribunal dismisses petition against Aranmula airport
CHENNAI: The proposed KGS Aranmula International Airport in Pathanamthitta district in Kerala got a reprieve on Tuesday when the National Green Tribunal, Chennai Bench, dismissed a petition that challenged the project. 

The petitioner had challenged the notification of the proposed airport site as an industrial belt and the no-objection certificate given by the state government for the project. 

The present order also sets aside the interim order passed by the bench two weeks ago. In the interim order, the bench had stayed construction at the site. 

The verdict is expected to speed up the project, which is the biggest infrastructure project in central Kerala in several decades. 

The Rs 2,000 crore airport is promoted by Chennai-based KGS Group which has interests in diversified fields including real estate, infrastructure, paper and engineering. The Kerala government has a 10% equity stake in the airport project. 

"We always knew that the Green Tribunal's verdict will be favourable to us because we have not violated any norms laid down by any authority. The dismissal of the petition by the tribunal will help the company speed up work on the project. We will now go forward 

with the project, with the co-operation of the people of Aranmula and Pathanamthitta district in particular, the state government, and all the stake holders," said Gigi George, managing director of KGS Aranmula International Airport. 

The airport is expected to benefit not only the large number of NRIs from central Kerala, but also the pilgrims going to the Sabarimala temple. The economic benefits of the airport will be realized by Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Alappuzha and Kollam districts. The tourism sector will also get a major boost because of the airport, given the fact 

that the backwaters of Alappuzha, Kumarakom and Thekkady are all within close proximity of the proposed airport.

Decks cleared for Aranmula Airport as NGT vacates stay

01st May 2013 08:13 AM
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday disposed of a case related to the Aranmula greenfield airport after the applications were withdrawn by the appellants.
The case had caused quite a stir in Kerala when the southern bench comprising judicial member Justice M Chockalingam and expert member Professor R Nagendran granted an interim stay on the construction of the airport on April 2. It had also stayed a Kerala government notification converting 500 acres of wetland into industrial land in Pathanamthitta district for this purpose.
When the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, Advocate General (AG) of Kerala, K P Dandapani, vehemently argued on behalf of the government for the vacation of the stay orders.
The AG said three important points were crucial for the case: the application was barred by limitation; there was lack of jurisdiction as far as the NGT was concerned; material facts were suppressed by the applicants including the pendency of a writ petition of the same matter before the Kerala High Court.
At this juncture, counsel for the applicants (Aranmula Heritage Village Protection Action Council) requested the bench for permission to withdraw the application and come before it with a fresh one. This was accepted by the Tribunal.
“After hearing counsel and looking into the materials placed before the Tribunal, it would suffice to give permission to the applicant to withdraw the application. Accordingly, the application is disposed of as withdrawn,” the bench said in its order.
This meant the stay on the airport construction, which was awarded based on the disposed application, stood automatically  vacated.
Also, taking into consideration the fact that Advocate General  and other counsel came all the way from Kerala for the purpose of attending to this case, the National Green Tribunal awarded a cost of `25000 payable to the respondents by the applicant side.

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