KERALA

Forest Department not keen on KSEB plan

: The Forest Department has expressed its reservations about a revived proposal the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) had prepared earlier this year for setting up a 70-MW hydroelectric project at Pathrakadavu, close to the Silent Valley National Park.

This proposal of the KSEB was abandoned in 2007 following strong objection by environmentalists, who had argued that the project would be disastrous to the unique ecosystem of Silent Valley. The KSEB resubmitted the proposal before the government a few months ago as part of its efforts to explore avenues for increasing power generation in the State in the context of the power crisis confronting the State.

The KSEB had contented that it had got a detailed environmental impact assessment (EIA) conducted on the project in 2003 and had also subjected the EIA report to a public hearing. The study had identified the possible negative impact of the project on the environment and had also proposed detailed environment management plan for both the construction phase and the post-construction phase.

The KSEB had strongly recommended the implementation of the project since, according to it, the negative impact of the project was containable.

A top Forest Department official on Thursday said the department had now told the government that the site of the proposed hydroelectric project was less than half-a-kilometre away from the boundary of the Silent Valley National Park and the area also came under the Nilambur Elephant Reserve. T

he proposal for setting up a 70-MW hydroelectric station at such a place would first require the clearance of the National Wildlife Board and the Supreme Court, before it could be submitted for the clearance of the Ministry of Environment and Forest. The Forest Department clarified that, legally, the EIA conducted earlier was not valid.



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