Expert panel to submit report in 15 days

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has decided to constitute an experts’ committee to examine alternative possibilities to drawing a high-tension power line from the Kaiga nuclear power plant to Kerala through the catchment area of a tributary of the Cauvery in Kodagu.

The decision comes in the wake of prominent people from Kodagu opposing the project in its present form.

The proposed committee, to be headed by an expert from the Central Power Research Institute, will be given 15 days to look into the concerns of people of Kodagu and submit a report.

An assurance was given by the Chief Minister to legislators and environmental activists from Kodagu who met him at his home office here to seek a change in the route of the proposed power line pass, in public interest.

Coorg Wildlife Society president Col. C.P. Muthanna (retd.), who was part of the delegation that had more than a hour’s discussion with the Chief Minister, told reporters that the proposed committee would comprise wildlife ecologist R. Sukumar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, and water expert Rajendra Singh.

He alleged that the project, to be implemented by Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd., would result in devastation of 156 hectares of coffee estate and 104 hectares of paddy cultivation area near Virajpet besides 23 hectares of forests. “The area through which the proposed line is to pass has such a thick green cover that each acre of coffee plantation has 350 fully grown trees,” he said, and expressed concern that nearly 53,000 trees would have to be felled if the power line route was not changed.

He said that leaders from Kodagu had suggested that the power line be drawn underground through the “forest fire line” that runs for 23 km. This would also reduce the length of the power line, he said.

The Chief Minister assured the delegation of taking up the issue again for discussion after the experts’ committee submits its report, he said.

The former Speaker K.G. Bopaiah, MLA Appachu Ranjan and MLC M.C. Nanaiah were part of the delegation.

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