Kasturirangan report: State to find it tough to construct new dam at Mullaperiyar
By Anil S | Published: 18th November 2013 08:36 AM |
The Centre’s decision to implement the Kasturirangan panel report on the Western Ghats may throw a spanner in the State Government’s plans to construct a new dam at Mullaperiyar.
“Already the permission to take the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) for the new dam is pending before National Wildlife Board.
The forest officials did not give a positive response for the new dam proposal. Once the Kasturirangan panel recommendations are implemented, things would be more difficult,” pointed out sources in the Mullaperiyar Cell, on conditions of anonymity.
Taking the EIA, a preliminary step towards a new dam, has been delayed for months as it needs a fivelevel clearance - the State Forest Department, State Wildlife Board, National Wildlife Board, SC-appointed Empowered Panel on Forests and finally the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The site for the proposed new dam at Mullaperiyar falls within reserve forest area. Hence, there is an existing ban on construction activities there. Once the region becomes part of the Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ), it will make transportation of materials for the project virtually impossible.
Terming this a ‘matter of serious concern’, State Water Resources Minister P J Joseph said the issue would be raised at appropriate forums. “Of course, it’s a serious issue; we would raise the issue and look into it,” the Minister assured. Meanwhile, former chairman of Kerala Biodiversity Board and member of Madhav Gadgil-headed Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel V S Vijayan pointed out that the Kasturirangan panel report does not prevent construction of dams.
“Going by the Kasturirangan panel recommendations, construction of new dams won’t be difficult. The Madhav Gadgil panel has categorised three Ecologically Sensitive Zones - ESZ I, II and III. Based on the sensitive nature of each zone, constructions of dams (dam where power generation of up to 10 mega watts in Zone I, up to 25MW in Zone II and larger dams in Zone III) can be carried out,” Vijayan said.