Greens oppose hydel project near Abbi Falls

Staff Correspondent

MADIKERI: A group of environmentalists have expressed concern over the construction of the Abbi Falls Mini Hydel Power Project near Abbi Falls, a picnic spot near here, saying the consequences will prove disastrous to the environment.

Noted environmentalist K.M. Chinnappa and two others A.A. Poovaiah and P.M. Muthanna, who represent different NGOs, in a statement released on Friday said the topsoil of the Abbi Falls area is fertile and the area is environmentally fragile. The area receives over 2000 mm of rainfall annually and construction of roads and will hasten soil erosion. The washed away topsoil will deposit in the Harangi reservoir, were water from the Abbi Falls converge.

The location, where the proposed check dam of the project is to come up, is just 200 ft away from the Kootupole reservoir, from where drinking water is pumped to meet the needs of Madikeri city. A report submitted to the Deputy Commissioner by the Rephidim Power Project company, which is undertaking construction of the check dam, said the weir will be 26 metres wide and 10.5 meters high. On the other hand, the agreement signed between the Kalakeri-Nidugane Gram Panchayat, under which the project falls, said the height of the weir will be 10.5 ft.

The company has not clearly come out with the extent of the submersion of land, they alleged.

Mr. Chinnappa and the others said the repercussions of the Abbi project will be serious to Madikeri city which is just a few kilometres away from the spot of the proposed check dam. They said since Madikeri city lacks proper sewerage facilities, open drains carry the wastes away from the town.

In the event of construction of the check dam, water flow will be hindered resulting in stagnation of drain water, which can lead to disease.

Residents of the city are likely to be affected rather than those in the Kalakeri-Nidugane village area, Mr. Chinnappa said.

Moreover, the company said the power generated will be used in and around Madikeri city, which will be impossible in the absence of a separate grid for Madikeri city.

People should wake up to the conflicting statements of the company, which have misled local authorities, district administration and the associations fighting against the proposed project, Mr. Chinappa said. The environmentalists urged political leaders of the district to turn their attention to find a solution to the issue.