Even as the Empowered Committee has pointed out the possibility of a new dam as an alternative to the Mullaperiyar dispute, Kerala’s proposal regarding the same is likely to face a hard time getting the green signal from the various departments and environmental agencies.
In its report, the Empowered Committee had pointed out the possibilities for alternative solutions which includes a new reservoir.
With the proposed location for the new dam falling within close proximity to the Periyar Tiger Reserve, the Forest Department is bound to have second thoughts before granting approval for any construction-related activities here. “If approved, the project may need around 50 hectares of land for various purposes. It will include the area for construction, setting up of camps, crushing plants, and the area to be submerged. The proposal needs clearances at five stages - from the state Forest Department, Wildlife Board, Ministry of Environment and Forests, National Wildlife Board and finally Supreme Court Committee on Environment and Forests,” said Mullaperiyar Cell chairman M K Parameswaran Nair.
As the reservoir is proposed to be built on the banks of the Periyar, any developmental or construction activities in and around the site can be undertaken only through the forest. For strengthening the proposed dam or building a new structure, a major portion of the forest will have to be acquired - a matter which the forest officials are not very keen on. It has been pointed out that many trees may have to be cut for setting up the Mullaperiyar-Vallakadav Road. “The Irrigation Department has already filed a request for carrying out the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in this regard,” said a top Forest Department official. The Forest Department has reportedly denied permission for carrying out the EIA.
(Written under the aegis of CSE Media Fellowship)