Environmental organisations have come out against the reported move to revive a proposal to set up a mineral water-bottling plant in the buffer zone of the Silent Valley National Park.
When the proposal was made two years ago, the State government and the district administration had objected to it, with the District Collector submitting a report that the plant, planned on the banks of the Karuvarathode, a tributary of the Bhavani, near Mukkali, would affect the water table and cause serious ecological imbalance.
The then Forest Minister, Benoy Viswom, opposed the move, saying, “Protecting the Silent Valley is the utmost priority of the government. No commercial interest will be allowed to take precedence over it.”
But now there are moves to revive the proposal, P.S. Panikkar, secretary, Jana Jagratha, a non-governmental organisation, says.
S. Faizi, Member, Expert Group on Poverty and Biodiversity, Convention of Biological Diversity, U.N., in a letter to District Collector P.M. Ali Asgar Pasha on Saturday, said allowing the plant “will constitute a violation of a Supreme Court order and will attract action from the Central Empowered Committee appointed by the court on forest and wildlife issues.”
In 2000, the Supreme Court ordered that areas within a 10-km radius from the perimeter of national parks be managed as buffer zones by declaring them ecologically sensitive areas under the Environment Protection Act, Mr. Faizi said.
In a drought-prone area such as Palakkad district, permitting water-intensive industries has been a grave error, he said. Considering the deteriorating groundwater level in Palakkad district (27 per cent depletion in 2010), permission should not be given to the plant.