As part of the efforts to keep the Athirappilly hydel power project alive, Kerala state electricity board Limited has approached the state forest department for the handing over the forest land in the proposed project site to the board.According to sources, the board, through the department of power has given the letter to the forest department for the project. Ever since the LDF came to power, there were enough indications from the government side that it would explore the possibility of commissioning the 163 MW hydel power project, which has resulted in protests from environmental activists and some political parties.
Though power minister Kadakampally Surendran had indicated the government stand towards the project immediately after he took over the portfolio, he later backed out saying that the government did not wish to push forward any project which was unwelcome to the public."It is true that the power department had asked the state forest department to take steps for the formal handing over of the 138.6 hectors of forest land in the proposed project site.
The letter must have been sent in view of the fact that the renewed environment clearance the board received for the project is about to elapse on July 2017. The board was able to get environmental clearance after making a series of efforts. Unless no action is taken towards the setting up of the project, the union ministry of environment may not sanction the board's application for another round of extension for the project, which was originally conceived in 1996," sources in the board said.Of the 750 sq km area of Vazhachal forest area, the Athirappilly project is expected to affect 231 sq km area.