PIL seeks probe into Kerala government buying stake in Aranmula airport project

The Kerala High Court today admitted a petition seeking a vigilance inquiry into the Kerala government's decision to purchase 10-per cent stake in a private airport proposed to be set up at Aranmula in Pathnamthitta district, allegedly at the behest of the project promoters.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice K Vinod Chandran admitted the public interest litigation (PIL), filed by the secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Pathnamthitta district.

The state government bought 10,000 shares or 10-per cent in the project, allegedly to secure exemption for the promoters from the provisions of the land reforms Act.

This has been done solely to secure land for the project promoters, the PIL alleges.

The proposed KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd is developing an international greenfield airport at a cost of Rs2,000 crore on 700 acres of land, which also includes prime agricultural land.

According to the project web site, the state government of Kerala is participating in the project with minority stake and will nominate the chairman to the board.

The airport will be privately owned and managed.

With a runway length of 3100x45 meters, the Aranmula International Airport is being designed to cater to Airbus A-320 / Boeing 747 like aircraft. The terminal building is designed to handle 1,000 passengers at a time.

This airport is being developed as a SEZ with multi-specialty hospital, shopping mall, star hotels and an international school.

KGS is a diversified business group with interests in property development, construction, paper manufacturing, engineering, healthcare and infrastructure.

Reliance Industries also has a 15 per cent stake in KGS group.