The proposal to set up Gundia hydel power project of 200 MW capacity faces a bleak future with the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) incorporating Dr K Kasturirangan Committee’s report on Western Ghats conservation retrospectively from April 17 this year.
The fate of former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda’s proposed tyre manufacturing plant at Sullia also hangs in balance.
Based on the circular from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), the KSPCB demarcated 17 villages, including 11 naxal-affected villages in Belthangady taluk, 11 villages in Puttur taluk and 17 villages in Sullia taluk (see box) as Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA).
Under the ‘no-tolerance’ policy, industries in red category (100 such red industries have been identified by the Central Pollution Control Board and KSPCB) will not be allowed in these 45 ESAs. “With power generation plants and bio-mass power plants above 25 MW capacity being grouped in red category, it is curtains down on the Gundia power project that has a capacity of 200 MW,” sources in the regional KSPCB told Express.
However, eight hydel power plants operating in the Western Ghats, with each unit’s capacity being less than 25 MW, face no threat of eviction as they are listed in the green category by the MoEF.
“If Gowda’s proposed tyre manufacturing factory uses coal-fired boiler, then it cannot be permitted in ESA,” KSPCB officials said.
The regional KSPCB in Mangalore, barring one instance, has not received any applications from entrepreneurs to set up red category industries in ESA.
In one instance, a rubber recycling factory in Nelyadi was relocated to Golithattu, following protests by locals. With Golithattu in Puttur taluk being identified as an ESA, officials have sought clarification from the KSPCB chairman. Sources said the Board was likely to issue permission for the factory as the unit was listed in orange category.