Special Correspondent

Concern expressed over its impact on Western Ghats

Destruction of environment in Western Ghats could affect rare species of frog

‘Gundia project will lead to submergence of large tracts of land’

BANGALORE: A fresh round of resistance — this time from senior and influential politicians — seems to be building against the Gundia hydel power project in the Western Ghats region of Sakleshpur. The State Planning Board Deputy Chairperson D.H. Shankaramurthy and Bharatiya Janata Party MP D.B. Chandre Gowda are calling for a debate on the project.

Participating in an interaction with presspersons on the climate change action plan in Bangalore on Wednesday, both the senior BJP leaders, who come from the Western Ghats’ area, expressed concern over the environmental impact of projects like Gundia on the region.

When asked about the stand off with the planning board on the Gundia project, Mr. Shankaramurthy said: “Our view is that there should be a proper assessment of merits and demerits of the project.”

Both the leaders declined to say whether they were for the project or against it. Mr. Gowda said he was concerned over the environmental impact of not just Gundia, but all hydel projects. He said it was a matter of concern that the State was still depending on hydel projects instead of tapping adequate quantum of renewable energy to meet its energy requirements. He suggested that the Government should keep climate change and environmental impact in mind while making a decision on any hydel power project.

The former chairman of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Sharatchandra, questioned the claims of Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd. that Gundia is a ‘run of the river’ project. “It cannot be a ‘run of the river’ project as a large extent of land would get submerged by it,” he said.

Eco-impact

He said the project would lead to destruction of the environment in the Western Ghats which is a hotspot of bio-diversity. “This would lead to fragmentation of habitats which would result in disappearance of certain species owing to lack of connectivity with neighbouring areas. According to him, certain rare species of frogs were expected to be hit due to fragmentation of this part of the Western Ghats. “In the last two years, nine species of frogs have been identified in the area where the project is coming up,” he said.

The Gundia hydel power project, which has two generating units with a capacity of 200 MW each, will be built across the Gundia river. The foundation stone for the project was laid in May this year by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. The project is awaiting environmental clearance.

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