KFRI is the agency entrusted with the work

Even amid the raging controversy over the safety of Mullaperiyar dam, preparatory work for carrying out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for building a new dam is progressing.

The Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Peechi, has started the groundwork for the EIA of the Kerala Periyar Dam at the behest of the Irrigation Design and Research Board of the Water Resources Department. The institute is planning to approach the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET) to obtain accreditation for carrying out the EIA.

The accreditation is mandatory for EIA studies on river valley projects. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has stipulated that only accredited agencies will be permitted to carry them out on river valley projects after December 2011, said U.N. Nandakumar, Head of the Silviculture Department of the institute.

One of the key objectives of NABET, according to its website, is to “set and maintain criteria for the registration of personnel in the practice and assessment of quality and environment management systems.” Only a few government agencies in the country have been approved by NABET for carrying out such works. The research capabilities and facilities available at the institute will be detailed in its application for accreditation. The institute may have to partner with a few external agencies for carrying out some components of the EIA, such as geology and geo-morphological studies, he said.

The EIA can begin after obtaining the Detailed Project Report of the proposed dam and the board is expected to bring out the document shortly. A team of scientists from the institute had earlier visited the proposed dam site for providing scientific inputs for the preparation of a feasibility report for the new dam, officials said.

Questionnaire

The Union Ministry has prepared a detailed questionnaire for the environment appraisal of river valley and hydroelectric projects covering a wide range of issues.

The questionnaire has sought the reason for selecting the proposed site from the environment angle, whether the proposed dam site falls in a seismically active area, and the estimate of seismic hazard. Questions on whether the proposed project is in a landslip-prone zone, the geomorphologic conditions, the degree of susceptibility to mass movement, and the history and frequency of the past landslips will also have to be provided.

The Ministry will check whether a national park, sanctuary, tiger reserve, or elephant reserve; a core or buffer zone of a biosphere reserve; or a habitat of migratory birds are located within 7 km of the proposed site.

Description of the vegetation within the project site and 7 km from its periphery, raw materials to be used during construction, and their source and quantity, and the mode of transport will have to be provided. Studies will have to be carried out during different seasons and data provided to the Ministry.

Pollution and noise level during construction, their source and levels, impact of noise on the wildlife habitat, and noise abatement measures will have to be listed. Rehabilitation and resettlement plans, villages to be affected by the project, population to be displaced, and comments and recommendations of the Chief Wildlife Warden in case a wildlife habitat or migratory path exists within 7 km of the project site have to be provided.