Thiruvananthapuram: A controversy is brewing in Kerala over the Marxist-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government’s decision to go ahead with the controversial Athirappally hydroelectric project, despite protest from environmentalists and several political parties.
The preliminary work on the 163-MW project, proposed to be implemented across the Chalakkudy river in Thrissur district, has already begun, State Electricity Minister M.M. Mani informed the State Assembly yesterday, triggering a major controversy.
The CPI, the second major constituent of the ruling coalition, strongly opposed the project, which, they believe, would affect environment and local population.
Though the government assurance was that it would go ahead with the project only after evolving a consensus on it, the Minister informed the Assembly that the preliminary works had already begun.
A study conducted by the Central Electricity Authority had found that the hydroelectric project is beneficial to the State.
He pointed out that the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) had already completed the formalities required under the Forest Conservation Act (1980) for obtaining forest land for other non-forest activities.
According to sources, the KSEB had already handed over the compensation amount to the Forest Department to the required forest land.
As part of the work, the KSEB has installed a transformer meant for the project in its land, nearly six km from the project site.
The sources said preliminary works had been started before the environment clearance given by the Centre for the project expired last month.
Environmentalists alleged that the project will badly affect the Nature and environment and completely destroy Athirappally waterfalls.
The project that will submerge about 140 acre forest under water will destroy rare fauna and flora.