Says report failed to propose any viable alternative

The Electricity Pensioners’ Welfare Association has said that it is high time that the Kerala government started giving due seriousness in dealing with matters regarding the implementation of the Gadgil committee and the Kasturirangan committee reports on the Western Ghats.

In a statement here on Sunday, chairman of the association K. Radhakrishnan said that the association was of the opinion that the Madhav Gadgil committee report was prepared in a biased manner without considering the different sides of the issue. It happened mainly because of the incompetence of the committee to deal with a subject affecting the development of a large area of the country.

The committee which should have been a multi-disciplinary one unfortunately comprised only people from ecology and related areas.

Kerala was represented in the committee by people known to be biased. There were no engineers in the committee.

“Unfortunately the Kerala government and the Kerala civil society took the committee lightly.”

Mr. Radhakrishnan alleged that the government failed to coordinate the various departments, and the Kerala State Electricity Board was perhaps the lone agency that apprised the committee of the real facts about the State. Many departments lined up before the committee against the arguments of the KSEB.

Mr. Radhakrishnan, a former member (generation) of the KSEB who led the KSEB team before the Gadgil Committee, said that all the organisations and popular groups which appeared before the committee argued against any development in the area. The committee did not consider the use of modern technology to avoid considerable damages to the ecology when it came to meeting some basic needs of the human community. Modern concepts such as ecosystem transplantation, enabling lateral growth for ecosystems and rebuilding of damages to the environment were not even mentioned in the report for reasons best known to the committee.

He said that the Gadgil committee report which opposed all developmental activities in the Western Ghats failed to propose any viable alternative. Total opposition to hydroelectric projects, neglecting the fact that more damages were inflicted to the environment by other forms of electricity generation, was a glaring handicap of the report.

Athirappilly

Interestingly the committee which didn’t include any power engineers questioned even the technical viability of the Athirappilly project which was approved by the Central Electricity Authority. This indicated that the Gadgil Committee had arrived at some hasty conclusions.

Later the Kasturirangan Committee set up by the Union government to have a fresh look into the matter gave the opportunity to all those interested to place their views before the committee. But again the Kerala government failed to apprise the committee of the real picture of the State.

Though the Kasturirangan Committee report was not in favour of a total ban on hydel projects, it still failed to view the facts in a comprehensive way. The constitution of the committee was again not sufficiently multi-disciplinaryThe committee did not include any engineers.

State-level panel

Welcoming the decision of the State government to set up a high level committee to deal with the issue, the association felt that a conventional committee comprising preoccupied government secretaries would not serve the purpose.