The Guruvayanakere-based National Seva Trust (NST), a non-governmental organisation, and the Dakshina Kannada Parisarasaktara Okkoota, have opposed the Gundia and other mini-hydel projects in the Western Ghats.

They urged the Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel during its public hearing at Gundia on Thursday to shift all the projects out of the Western Ghats.

A press statement issued by the two organisations on Friday said that 136 mini-hydel projects have been sanctioned in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Kodagu, Shimoga and Chikmagalur districts for an estimated capacity of 931 MW. The power distribution lines of these projects will destroy a large area of dense forests in the Western Ghats.

The Western Ghats would take a beating from the thermal power plant of Udupi Power Corporation Ltd.Pointing that the power lines from the plant to Bangalore would destroy 400 acres of rich forests, they demanded that it be shifted closer to Bangalore.

The effluents and gases from projects such as the SEZ and the proposed Petroleum, Chemicals, and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR), would gradually “burn” the ghats. Till a comprehensive study on the carrying capacity of the region is done, the 5,000-acre SEZ and 74,000-acre PCPIR should be put on hold, they demanded.

The press statement issued by Somanath Nayak and Rajeev Salian of the NST and Umesh Nirmal of the okkoota said that in reality, there was no dearth of power in Karnataka. Whatever shortage was there could be met by running the existing power plants more effectively and tapping alternative sources of energy.

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