Thiruvananthapuram, July 17 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy reiterated Wednesday that his government would go ahead with the proposed KGS Aranmula International Airport in the state despite opposition from the CPI-M.
Addressing reporters here, Chandy said: "They (CPI-M) gave all the sanctions at express speed and notified land for the airport. Now they say they don't want the airport. Now they speak of environment issues when they allowed filling of low-lying areas and wet lands for the airport. All the degradation of the environment has already taken place and no more damage can happen."
When asked about six of his legislators joining a group of 66 Left opposition legislators who are opposed to the airport, Chandy said: "They have every right to join them. But we are not going to go back on the project."
The airport is being built at a cost of Rs.2,000 crore, about 110 km from the state capital on 500 acres of land. It is 30 km from the famed Sabarimala temple.
It is the country's first private international airport and is promoted by Chennai-based KGS Group, which has interests in diversified fields, including infrastructure, paper and engineering.
The state government has been given a 10 percent equity stake in the airport.
In 2011, V.S. Achuthanandan as chief minister had given all the preliminary sanctions for the airport at the fag end of his tenure.
When Chandy's government decided to go ahead with the project, Achuthanandan led a group of green activists and staged a protest at the airport site.
The airport is expected to benefit the large number of non-resident Keralites from central Kerala and will be a boon for pilgrims who visit the Sabarimala temple.