A study by the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) this year has identified the Vazhachal forests in Thrissur district as an elephant corridor housing rich riparian ecosystem, placing the area high on the ladder of conservation value.

The study does not support the case of having a new hydroelectric project in the area. Talking to The Hindu on Friday, KFRI scientist S. Sankar, who was one of the investigators with this study, said the institution was not associated with any environment impact assessment (EIA) that supported the setting up of the 163-MW Athirappilly project in Vazhachal forests.

Electricity Minister A.K. Balan, while criticising the Centre's disinclination to give environmental clearance for the project, had said on Thursday that the EIA for the project was done by the KFRI. Putting the records straight, Dr. Sankar said it was the Tropical Botanical Garden Research Institute and, later, the Water and Power Consultancy Services that did the EIA for the project.

Animal corridor

According to the 2010 KFRI study, the small tract between the Athirappilly waterfalls and Poringal powerhouse (which will be disturbed by the proposed project) is an animal corridor connecting the southern Idamala valley forests and the northern Nelliampathy forests.