Central stand on Athirappilly project arbitrary - AK Balan

athirappillyElectricity Minister A.K. Balan has termed ‘arbitrary’ Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh’ stand that clearance will not be given to the Athirappilly hydroelectric project.

Mr. Balan told a press conference here on Saturday that the Union Minister had come out with the statement even as an Expert Appraisal Committee, appointed by his Ministry, was examining complaints about the 163-MW project. The situation was such that the committee would not be able to take a fair decision on the project. It was now clear that the decisions to be taken by the appraisal committee would be ‘a total farce’ and part of a conspiracy to scuttle the project. “The Minister says there is no conspiracy against the project, but I am willing to wager on that,” Mr. Balan said.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had issued a notice to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) on January 4 asking it to show cause why sanction given to the project should not be withdrawn.

Clearances for project

The KSEB had given a detailed reply to the notice. The Centre had, subsequently, informed the KSEB by a letter on February 10 that the appraisal committee had been authorised to study the issue. Mr. Ramesh had declared that the clearance was given to the Athirappilly project well before the constitution of the appraisal committee. His remarks after the constitution of the committee showed that there was no change in his stand, he said.

He said the State had gone ahead with the project after obtaining all necessary clearances from the Centre. The Union Ministry for Environment and Forests itself had cleared the project twice in 1998 and 2007. The Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute and the Water and Power Consultancy Services under the Central Water Commission had in 1998 and 2002 held detailed studies about it and found that the Athirappilly project was environment-friendly.
Source - Hindu 21 February 2010

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