Jairam criticises Kerala govt’s move to push Athirappilly project

Monday, May 30, 2016,13:50 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Kochi | Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh today criticised Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s move to push the long pending hydro-electric project at ecologically sensitive Athirappilly in the state, terming it a perfect recipe for ecological disaster.

The former Environment Minister’s remarks came a day after Vijayan backed state Electricity Minister Kadakampally Surdendran who said that the new CPI(M)-led LDF government would implement the project proposed across Chalakkudy river in consultation with environmentalists and their organisations.

Athirappilly project is a perfect recipe for ecological disaster which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will wreak on Kerala and the country, Ramesh told. Speaking to reporters in New Delhi yesterday, the Chief Minister had said the 163 MW project proposed in forest areas a decade ago, would not hinder the course of the waterfall there and there was no need for any concern.

Vijayan had also lamented that the project got stuck in a series of legal issues despite getting clearances from various departments. Ramesh, who had rejected green clearance to the project during his stint as Environment Minister in 2011 in the UPA-II government, said his stand on Athirappally has been clear, categorical and consistent.

It is a stand taken by then Principal Chief Conservator of Forest T M Manoharan, who was the Chairman of the Kerala State Electricity Board under three Chief Ministers. He had opposed the project citing the harm it could cause to the environment and ecology of the area, Ramesh said. He said in a report in 2007, the Kerala State Biodiversity Board headed by B S Vijayan had also pointed out that the power project would adversely affect the ecology of the area.

Meanwhile, the CPI, a key partner in the LDF government, has come out openly against the CPI(M) leaders’ move to revive the project. Opposing the project, CPI leader and Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar said there was no change in his party’s stand on the issue. The project planned at the water resource bed of Chalakudy river was revived during the 2006-2011 LDF rule in the state. The previous UDF government had also pressed for its clearance.

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