August 10, 2017
Kottayam: With the Kerala Government beginning preliminary work on the Athirappilly hydro electric project, coming days will be crucial as protests are to grow from various quarters, including its close ally CPI.
The beginning of the work was announced by Electricity Minister MM Mani in the Assembly on Wednesday.
The matter had created furore when Mani’s predecessor Kadakampallly Surendran in the same government had announced the government’s plans to go ahead with the project last year.
CPI state Secretary Kanam Rajendran had publicly opposed the project.
Former KPCC president V M Sudheeran as also present KPCC president MM Hassan are strongly against it.
The main opposition to the project is that it will destroy forest resources as a large tract of the area will be submerged.
The government appears to have secretly begun the works before July 18 when the environment clearance granted by the Centre ended.
The government has given Rs 5 crore as compensation to the forest department.
Mani said the Central Electricity Authority and Central Water Commission had cleared the project.
The report for the project was first submitted by Kerala State Electricity Board in 1982. This was spontaneously opposed by environmental bodies and the forest department. After this, it was kept in the back burner till 1997 when the Environment Ministry gave its clearance after an expert team visited the spot.
The environmental go-ahead was received in 1998, following which an office was opened. Three Public Interest Litigations were filed in 2001.
Those opposing the sat on a 90-day protest.
The Central panel of Dr Madhav Gadgil visited the site as part of preparing the report on protection of Western Ghats. Dr Kasturirangan who was appointed to review the Gadgil report had also strongly opposed going ahead with the Athirappally project.