Senior Congress leader V M Sudheeran has come out against the UDF Government ‘unilaterally’ moving ahead with the controversial 137 MW Athirapilly hydel project.
In a petition to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Sudheeran demanded an open debate on the project.
“It is unfortunate that the government is proceeding with the project without taking the local people into confidence.
That the authorities failed to conduct studies in a manner transparent enough to win the confidence of the people was the major flaw of the project in the first place,” Sudheeran said.
He also urged the Chief Minister to convene a meeting of Electricity Minister Aryadan Mohammed, former Minister A K Balan, MPs concerned and others who were present at the June 2011 meeting convened by Chandy where pertinent issues were discussed.
At that meeting, it was pointed out, among other things, that the water availability in the Chalakkudy river will be insufficient for the project, that the project cost would spiral beyond expectations and that the Athirapilly waterfall will dry up ending tourist flow.
Also, it was pointed out at the June 2011 meeting that irrigation of 14,000 hectares in 20 panchayats in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts will be adversely affected by the project.
“Participants in the meeting also drew attention to the fact that the project will hit biodiversity,” Sudheeran said, adding that the authorities could not give satisfactory replies to questions regarding these issues.
“I said satisfactory replies should be given and a further meeting held if necessary”.
He also made it clear that the government had an open mind on the issue.