THIRSSUR: Rs 22 crore. This is the amount the state government has paid as salary to the staff at the two offices of the Athirappilly hydel power project, which has remained only on paper since 1998. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has been maintaining a division office and sub-division office for the implementation of the controversial project — which got its NoC from the state government recently — at Kannamkuzhi near Athirappilly.
This was revealed in a reply to an RTI query filed by Thrissur district congress committee (DCC) vice-president Joseph Tajet. As per the documents, an executive engineer, two assistant engineers, three sub-engineers and an assistant engineer have been posted at the offices. In 2018, Electricity Minister M M Mani had announced in the state assembly that the office of the Athirappilly project would be closed down after the state government faced strong criticism from the High Court. “Implementing this project is not practical as it needs the permission of tribal people living there.
They have been opposing the project,” said Tajet, adding that the Congress will lead the fight along with the tribal people against the project. According to a KSEB officer, the division office at Kannamkuzhi was closed around a year ago. “The sub-divisional office still functions. The executive engineer has been given additional charges of Poringalkuthu and Anakkayam hydel projects,” the officer said.
Meanwhile, another KSEB officer said the offices at Athirappilly were set up in 1998 to prepare the project report and conduct liaison work with various departments to obtain sanction. “There is little chance to revive the project as the estimated cost is very high. Power is available at the rate of `3.5 per unit from the national power exchange and there is no need to invest a huge amount on Athirappilly now,” said the officer.