Hyderabad: Residents of Shamshabad village on Tuesday opposed the public hearing on the expansion of terminals at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), being reviewed by the Telangana State Pollution Control Board. The residents protested the decision to hold a public hearing inside the airport – they would have preferred it being conducted at a public place in the Shamshabad village or at the Revenue office.
Shamshabad sarpanch Mr. Rachamalla Siddeshwar informed the environmental officer from the PCB, M. Venkanna and the district collector, that the public hearing was being conducted at the airport, which was around 7 kilometers distant from the village and so the majority of the people of the village did not attend the hearing. “Only sponsored members of the public have attended the meeting, those who are getting benefits from an NGO run by the GMR. The GMR arranged buses to bring the public to the venue, but not those who wanted to attend the public hearing,” he said.
Mr. Siddeshwar said that the entire Shamshabad mandal was under the GO-111 released in 1996 to protect twin water bodies – Himayath Sagar and Osman Sagar. “How the government allows expansion of the terminals while the airport is already emitting air, sound and water pollution, is inexplicable. Also, how can the government, which is taking stringent action against constructions in all the 84 villages under the GO-111 by demolishing new constructions, (even in 100 to 200 square yards of area, stating that is against the GO which can be a threat to the water bodies), issue approvals for the expansion of the airport?” he questioned the PCB’s environmental officer.
Similarly, Shamshabad mandal congress president M. Venu Goud, BJP leader B. Narsimha Reddy and other leaders from various political parties have objected to the expansion of the terminal and other passenger amenities. Speaking to this newspaper, Mr. Siddeshwar said that the villagers must approach the National Green Tribunal (NGT) if the government issued approvals for the expansion.
Meanwhile, a few members of the public from the Airport Colony reached the public hearing under the supervision of Deputy MPP Y. Suresh Goud and asked the collector to provide basic facilities to their colony. “We are displaced villagers of RGIA who were edged out during the construction of the airport. The government constructed Airport Colony for us and the GMR promised to provide infrastructure to the colony by adopting it. So far, neither the GMR nor the government have provided even basic facilities to our colony,” they complained.