The stage is being set for a fresh round of confrontation in Kerala over the proposed Athirappally hydroelectric project on one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the State between the CPI(M)-led LDF Government and the opponents of the project including the CPI, Congress, and almost all environmental outfits with Marxist Power Minister MM Mani stating on Tuesday that the Government was planning to go ahead with the project.
In a written reply to a question from Muslim League legislator N Shamsudheen in the Assembly, the Minister said that the Government would go ahead with the power project over the scenic Athirappally waterfalls on the Chalakudy River in Thrissur district and indicated that acquisition of land for the project had already been started.
According to Mani, the Government was mulling initiation of 15 hydel projects to generate a total of 312 MW of electricity of which 163 MW was to come from the proposed project at Athirappally. However, he had said during the Question Hour, “We can consider in future the possibility of building a consensus on the Athirappally power project.”
The Athirappally project, which is feared to destroy the rich biodiversity of the Chalakudy river and the Athirappally-Vazhachal forests, the habitat of hundreds of tribespeople settled in Vazhachal, etc apart from affecting the water supply systems in several panchayats on the banks of the river, was put in cold storage after the Left had gone out of power in 2011.
The former LDF Government was forced to shelve the proposal due to long and intense protests from environmentalists, religious and rights organiSations and political parties like the CPI. A section in the 2011-16 Congress-led UDF Government and the Kerala State Electricity Board had wanted to reactivate the proposal but the efforts did not succeed.
Stiff protests came up against the plan to reactivate the project immediately after Minister Mani’s statement. “The project would not materialize just because the statement was made in the Assembly,” said State CPI secretary Kanam Rajendran while poetess and environmentalist Sugathakumari said, “We are warning the Government. It can’t build the project.” Read More…