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Aranmula greenfield Airport (AGA) project, Kerala, India


Aranmula is a village situated in the Pathanamthitta district of kerala. The village is known for its ancient Krishna temple and handicrafts and quite close to famous ‘Sabarimala Temple’. Government had in 2011 announced the plan for an airport, named Aranmula greenfield Airport (AGA). The project, costs about Rs 2,000 crore and will be built by Chennai-based KGS Aranmula international Airport Ltd[1].

The agitated villagers under the aegis of the People’s Action Council, alleged that the international airport project itself was part of a big land scam and fraud. Mr Varghese alleged that the KGS Group was a Chennai-based real estate company and they are planning to set up the proposed airport converting the bio-diversity-rich Aranmula wetlands which was a sprawling paddy field two decades ago. As many as 150 acres of the Aranmula paddy fields have already been illegally converted in the name of the airport project and there was no question of permitting any more conversion in the area [4]. The proposed airport will wipe out the wetlands and disturb the ecological balance in the region. On 2 April, 2013 the Chennai Bench of the National Green Tribunal issued an order staying the construction of the airport. However, on 30 April, the bench reversed its earlier decision and allowed the stay to be lifted [1].

Kerala Chief Minister stressed that Kerala government would go ahead with the proposed KGS Aranmula International Airport despite opposition from the Communist Party of India (Marxists) in the Kerala Legislative Assembly [2, 3] in 2013.

In 2014, there were mounting protests against this project. Not only did the judgement of  the National Green Tribunal, dated May 28, 2014, cancel the environmental clearance on procedural grounds, but there were also popular protests and strikes against it. The NGT declared that  Enviorocare, the agency that had carried out the environmental impact study of the airport project was not adequately qualified for the job and that the public hearing on the project had not been carried out in accordance with theset norms.[5]

 In May 2015, India's Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said the Aranmula International Airport had not been granted environmental approval. Mr Javadekar confirmed the cancellation of approval granted following an environmental impact assessment under the previous government. Mr Javadekar said, "There are three steps for availing environmental clearance, and the airport project has not cleared even the first step." India's Ministry of Defence also reportedly withdrew its clearance for the project, and the CAA, as aresult of the Environmental Minister's decision [1].

In November 2016, the Kerala government cancelled all orders related to the proposed Aranmula airport project, including the grant of in-principle sanction.The project had run into trouble after it was mooted nearly seven years ago with environment groups and people in the area holding that it would cause environmental hazards.

This was done after the India's Ministry of Civil Aviation withdrew in principal approval for the proposed Aranmula International Airport project, after National Green Tribunal reportedly did not provide environmental clearance and Ministry of Defence withdrew No Object Certificate in September 2016.

The CPI(M)—led LDF government in an affidavit filed in the Kerala High Court in a connected case in August 2016 had said that it had decided to take immediate steps to cancel its decision to notify approximately 500 acres of land in Aranmula as an industrial area.The government had also stated that it was found that the proposed project area constitutes large extent of paddy and wetland which cannot be legally converted for the purpose of a private company in view of existing legal provisions. The project also faced stiff resistance from devotees of Sri Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, who said that the airport would cause structural damage to the temple. [6]

However, in June 2018, the chief minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan said feasibility study is under way for setting up an airport at in the same region again. [7] The proposed Sabarimala greenfield international airport in Central Travancore is to come up on the Cheruvally estate, 2.5 km from the Theni-Kottarakara National Highway and close to Erumeli town in Kottayam district, as a replacement of Aranmula.[8] [9]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Aranmula greenfield Airport (AGA) project, Kerala, India
State or province:Kerala
Location of conflict:Aranmula
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Pilgrimage
Tourism services

Project Details and Actors

Project details

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.

The state government has been given a 10 percent equity stake in the airport.

The runway length of the proposed airport would be 3100 X 45 metres and the terminal building would be designed to handle 1,000 passengers at a time.

Project area:283.28
Level of Investment:323,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2011
End of the conflict:11/2016
Company names or state enterprises:KGS group from India
Aranmula Aviation Ltd from India
Relevant government actors:Union Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs, Kerala Government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Aranmula Paithruka Grama Karma Samithi, Communist Party of India (Marxists), People’s Action Council

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Sugathakumari, poet, who hails from Aranmula, joined the agitation and various socio-political and religious leaders aligned with her to launch a mass movement under the banner of the Joint Action Council. V.M. Sudheeran, T.N. Prathapan, V.T. Balaram, Peelipose Thomas and K.K. Royson, Congress leaders, backed the public agitation.
Philipose Mar Chrysostum, senior Metropolitan of Mar Thoma Church, Ms. Patkar, and V.R. Krishna Iyer, eminent jurist, backed Sugathakumari’s crusade.

The Ecological Concerns Department of the Church of South India launched a campaign of its own against the project. Geevarghese Mar Coorilos Metropolitan of the Jacobite Syrian Church and Swami Golokananda of Sri Ramakrishna Ashram were among those who opposed the project, which require reclamation of paddy fields and razing of hills.
Pinarayi Vijayan, V.S. Achuthanandan, Panniyan Raveendran, Mullakkara Ratnakaran, N.K. Premachandran and Benoy Viswom, Left Democratic Front leaders, and V. Muralidharan, BJP State president, addressed various public meetings in protest against the airport project at Aranmula during the past one year.
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:In 2016, the State government of Kerala scrapped the project, after both the National Green Tribunal didn´t provide clearance and the Ministry of Defence withdrew the No Objection certificate.

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict



The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] LDF walkout over Aranmula airport issue

[2] We will build Aranmula airport, says Kerala CM

[4] Protest mounting against Aranmula airport project


Protests mount against Aranmula airport plan

HC stays construction work at Aranmula airport

Kerala: Govt to go ahead with Aranmula airport

Protest continue against Keralas fifth airport

Congress MLA manhandled by RSS workers

No To Aranmula International Airport

An appeal to support the protest against Aranmula Airport project

[1] Green Lights But No Green Norms For Aranmula

[9] New airport worth Rs. 2500 crore to come up in Sabarimala replacing Aranmula

[6] The government orders the cancellation of the Aranmula airport project

[7] Government ordered feasibility study for a new airport after Aranmula was scrapped.

[8] New airport to come up in Sabarimala close to Aranmula

Village Action Council vows to disrupt Aranmula airport work

[5] National Green Tribunal order against the construction of the airport

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Facts About Aranmula International Airport by Aam Aadmi Party (In Malayalam)

Aranmula airport controversy - Big Story [Reporter HD](In Malayalam)

Aranmula cpim protesters [Reporter HD] (In Malayalam)

Other documents

Photo: Aranmula Paithruka Grama Karmasamithy. Source: One of many protests against a greenfield airport at Aranmula.

Source: Renowned Malayalam poet Sugathakumari addressing the march staged by the People’s Joint Action Council to the post office at Aranmula on Saturday.

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra and Brototi Roy
Last update19/10/2018



Photo: Aranmula Paithruka Grama Karmasamithy. Source:

One of many protests against a greenfield airport at Aranmula.


Renowned Malayalam poet Sugathakumari addressing the march staged by the People’s Joint Action Council to the post office at Aranmula on Saturday.