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Home News Power Sector News No environmental clearance for Athirappilly project - Jairam Ramesh

No environmental clearance for Athirappilly project - Jairam Ramesh

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Jairam RameshUnion Minister of State for Forest and Environment Jairam Ramesh said at Palakkad that there was no question of giving environment clearance for the Athirappilly hydro-electric project as a report by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board headed by B.S. Vijayan had pointed out that it would adversely affect the ecology and environment of the area. It was a unanimous report of the Board that was submitted to the Union Environment Ministry in 2007.

This report was not considered when clearance for the project was given earlier. It was a lapse on the part of the Union Ministry,” he said. The Kerala State Forest Department had also opposed it. “Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) T.M. Manoharan, who was the chairman of the Kerala State Electricity Board under three Chief Ministers, had opposed the project citing the harm it could cause to the environment and ecology of the area. The Minister said there were also petitions from the District Panchayat and many other organisations opposing the project.

Mr. Ramesh dismissed allegations raised by Electricity Minister A.K. Balan that the Union Forest Ministry was showing “discrimination and conspiracy against the State.” He said in many cases, the environment clearances given earlier were cancelled after examining them in the light of new evidence and study. The Minister said after he assumed office, he had cancelled the clearance given to some projects in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Maharashtra.

The Union ministry on July 19, 2007 had  cleared the Kerala State Electricity Board’s proposal to build a 163-mw dam on the Chalakudy river. The clearance had sparked massive protest from environmental activists and scientists, who accused the ministry of sounding the death knell of a unique riparian eco-system. The centre gave its clearance after the Expert Appraisal Committee for River Valley & Hydroelectric Projects visited the proposed site in April 2007.

The committee had recommended that the government should initiate welfare measures for tribals living in the area. It also wanted maintaining of a minimum flow of water through the Athirappally waterfall. The clearance also limited the period for power generation to four hours (7 pm to 11 pm) from February 1 to May 31 every year, the driest months. This provision, according to the ministry, will take care of tourism concerns during the lean season.

Source- PTI

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