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Home News Power Sector News Athirappilly - kerala to explain stand before expert committee on March 18

Athirappilly - kerala to explain stand before expert committee on March 18

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AthirappillyEven after Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh made a prejudiced stand that the Athirappilly hydro-electric project would be a no-go, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has asked Kerala to explain its stand before an expert appraisal committee. In a letter to the state, the MoEF, the other day, had asked the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) to make a comprehensive presentation on the project on March 18 before the expert appraisal committee, under the Environmental Impact Assessment Division of the MoEF.

Environmental impact assessment is mandatory under the Environmental (Protection) Act-1986 for various developmental activities involving investments of Rs 50 crores and above. The appraisal committee will evaluate the impact of the project, based on the data furnished by the project authorities, and if necessary will conduct site visits or on-the-spot assessment of various environmental aspects. Based on such examination, the committee will make recommendations for the approval or rejection of the project.

In the case of site-specific projects, like those involving river valleys, a two-stage clearance procedure is adopted, wherein   the project authorities will have to obtain site clearance before applying for the environmental clearance of their projects  in order to avoid areas which are ecologically fragile and environmentally sensitive.

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) had accorded Techno economic clearance for this Project (2x 80 MW) on 31-3-2005.  The Environmental clearance to the project was obtained on 20-1-1998 based on the rapid Environmental Impact Assessment study conducted by Tropical Botanic Garden & Research Institute (TBGRI) including site visits by experts deputed by MoE&F. Stage-I Forest clearance was accorded by Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoE&F) on 22-12-1997 and the Stage-II forest clearance on 16-12-1999. There is no displacement of tribes or any families.

The project was again accorded Environmental Clearance in 2005, based on the EIA study conducted by Water & Power Consultancy Services India Ltd (WAPCOS) ,as a result of a judgment by Hon’ High Court of Kerala ,on procedural grounds i.e. due to  change in the EIA notification, public hearing was made mandatory. The project was ,still again accorded Environmental Clearance in 2007 by Ministry of Environment & Forest including site visits by experts from various disciplines deputed by MoE&F again, based on a judgments  by Hon’ High Court of Kerala,on procedural grounds i.e. due to change in the EIA notification ,circulation of EIA report was made mandatory.

There is a hidden agenda to delay the implementation of the project and make it unviable i.e. project cost in 2001 was Rs 409 cores has heen raised to Rs 567 crores in 2006.

Source- Indian Express

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