Chennai/Kochi, Nov 18(): Kasturirangan report may scuttle the Kerala government’s proposal to construct a new dam at Mullaiperiyar.
As Tamil Nadu has already said this new dam will harm the state, Kasutrirangan report which is creating a storm in Kerala would be good news to Tamil Nadu, if Kasturirangan panel report on protection of Western Ghats is adopted.
The permission for carrying out the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) for the new dam at Mullaiperiyar is pending before the National Wildlife Board. The board and forest officials have not been reacting positively towards the new dam proposal. Once the Kasturirangan panel recommendations are adopted, that would make things even more difficult.
The Kasturirangan panel’s report, if implemented, could lead to widespread displacement of people in 123 villages spread across 11 districts, fear political parties and activists in Kerala. The Left Democratic Front is observing a day-long bandh today to register its protest since it could affect development work in the hilly region.
On the new Mullaiperiyar dam, as a first step in carrying out the EIA, needs a clearance by the State Forest Department, then from the State Wildlife Board, shifts to a National Wildlife Board and Supreme Court appointed Empowered Panel on Forests and then has to finally go to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The proposed location for the new dam at Mullaiperiyar falls within the reserve forest area. Already there existed a ban on construction activities in the place.
Once the region comes to be a part of the Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ), it will prohibit transportation of materials for the dam project and any other construction activity will be impossible.
Terming this hurdle as a matter of concern, P J Joseph, Kerala Water Resources Minister said the issue would be discussed at the appropriate forums. Kerala Biodiversity Board ex-chairman VS Vijayan says that the Kasturirangan committee report does not say anything on construction of dams.
Normal life came to standstill across Kerala by the hartal called by LDF today to protest the Centre’s move to implement the Kasturirangan report on conservation of Western Ghats.