Cricket buffs in Kerala got a rude shock Monday when union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh ruled out clearance for the proposed Kochi cricket stadium.
Addressing reporters here after a high-level meeting with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his cabinet colleagues, Ramesh said that at no cost can the stadium be allowed at the proposed site because it falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone-1.
"The clearance for the stadium just cannot be granted because it comes under CRZ-1 area and a lot of precious mangrove has already been destroyed there," the minister said.
"The Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) first destroyed the mangrove. Our officials had asked them to stop all activities since they had not applied for clearance from my department," said Ramesh.
The environment department last year had issued a notice to the KCA for destroying mangroves at the proposed site.
"The maximum penalty that we can impose is just Rs.1 lakh. No stadium is permissible at this site," he stressed.
Chandy said the government's policy is that there must be development in the state, but not at the cost of destroying the environment.
KCA secretary T.C. Mathew said that the association has not done anything wrong and will again take up the issue with the state government.
"If the centre denies us permission then we will have no other option but to seek legal recourse. But that would be our last option," Mathew told IANS.