Notwithstanding opposition from environmentalists and Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, Kerala Government is pressing for green clearance for Athirappilly hydro power project in the ecologically sensitive area in Thrissur district.
State Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday seeking clearance for the 163 MW project, argued that the project is "environmentally least destructive."
Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Experts Panel has recommended that environmental clearance be denied to the Athirappilly Project as it falls in the Ecological Sensitive Zone 1 (ESZ1).
Oommen Chandy said the total land required for the project is 138.6 hectares of forest land of which the area to be cleared is only 65.2 hectares (28.4 hectares of natural forest and 36.8 hectares of teak plantation).
No rehabilitation and resettlement is involved, the Chief Minister said.
Oommen Chandy sought the Prime Minister's intervention on the issue and requested him to "withdraw the showcause notice issued in 2010 for revoking the environmental clearance".
Those who oppose the project, including V S Vijayan, a member of the Gadgil Committee, argue that implementation of this project would lead to huge loss of invaluable biodiversity and wildlife.
Livelihood of thousands of people living in the downstream of project would be hit, if it is implemented, they argue.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who blocked the project when he was the Environment Minister in 2010, has said in Thiruvananthapuram last week that "as a concerned citizen I hope the state government will listen to the people of Kerala who have argued against the project."