THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Calling Athirappilly the last coastal evergreen riverine rain forest in the Western Ghats, environmentalist Madhav Gadgil on Tuesday warned that the proposed hydro-electric project would not be viable in terms of ecology, economy or social aspects. Gadgil, the chairman of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), also termed the project undesirable and in violation of the Forest Rights Act.
The WGEEP, which conducted a study on the conservation of Western Ghats, had, in its report submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2011, recommended that the Athirappilly-Vazhachal region should be protected and no clearance should be given for the hydro-electric project.
“The project is financially unviable as there’s much less water in the dam than what is claimed in the project report. It is not enough to generate electricity. Going by the information collected by Thrissur-based NGO River Research Centre under RTI, the figures on water availability have been exaggerated,” Gadgil told TNIE.
As for ecology, the project will certainly cause immense damage to the last coastal riverine evergreen forest in the Western Ghats, he said. “Another important factor would be the existence of the Kadar tribes. They have been rehabilitated repeatedly. Under the Forest Rights Act, they have habitation rights over the area which would be violated if the project is implemented,” said Gadgil.Referring to his visit to Athirappilly, Gadgil said the panchayat and local stakeholders have opposed the project.