Staff Reporter

Says project will be implemented after dispelling fears of the local people

Thrissur: Electricity Minister A.K. Balan has said that implementation of more hydroelectric projects, including the proposed dam at Athirappilly, was essential to meeting the State's growing power requirements.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Mr. Balan said the Athirappilly project should be implemented after dispelling fears of the local community that it would cause ecological damage and harm the waterfalls.

``Their apprehensions are misplaced. The area to be submerged by the dam does not have tribal settlements. Even if tribesmen in the area are affected, they will be properly rehabilitated. The Government will ensure that the project does not cause ecological damage,'' Mr. Balan said.

Asked whether he had visited Athirappilly, the Minister answered in the negative.

``But I have studied the issue thoroughly. I have discussed with experts, read scientific writings on the project and am aware of each and every detail,'' he said.

He said the LDF Government was committed to sustainable development.

``The State has 82 lakh consumers, of whom 62 lakhs are in the domestic category. Over the next five years, the number of consumers will rise to one crore. To cater to the increasing demand, the State has to generate more power through hydel projects,'' he said.

Mr. Balan said the Government was planning to generate 1,000 MW in the next five years and 2,000 MW in the following five years.

A 110 KV sub-station at Pullazhi and 33 KV sub-stations at Parappur, Kongannur, Koratty, Pariyaram, Palakkal, Vellikulangara, Anthicaud, Chelakkara and Mullorkkara would be completed in 2006-2007, the Minister said.