Thiruvananthapuram: After years of controversies delaying the realisation of an international airport in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district, hopes have been revived with India’s federal authorities sanctioning an environment impact study for the project.

The proposed site for the airport is in Aranmula in Pathanamthittta, a district known for its large number of non-resident Keralites.

If realised, it will become the fifth international airport in the state after those at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode and Kannur. The Kannur airport is in the final phase of construction.

The federal forest and environment ministry has accorded sanction for conducting an environment impact assessment study for the proposed Aranmula airport on the basis of a request by the KGS group, a Chennai-based company which is the promoter of the project.

An earlier study had been conducted on the same lines, but its findings were turned down by the National Green Tribunal on the grounds that the agency that conducted the study lacked the credentials to do it.

The federal authorities have also asked the promoters to take the opinion of the local residents regarding the requirement of an airport in the area.

The main opposition to the airport had come from the local leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. However, the latest development suggests that the national leadership of the BJP may ask the local leaders who are opposing the project to change their stand.

The airport is considered a boon for residents of Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, Alappuzha and Kollam districts, who have to travel far and sometimes even stay overnight to catch flights from the Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi airports.