KOCHI: The 163 MW Athirappilly hydel power project which was put on hold following protest from tribal community and environment groups has not been scrapped, said KSEB chairman B Ashok on Wednesday. The forest department has decided to return the Rs 4.11 crore paid by the KSEB as compensation for the loss of forest cover and the Rs 1.14 crore paid for afforestation to compensate for environmental impact. But that does not mean that the project has been scrapped, he said.
“Kerala generates only 30 per cent of the state’s power requirement and the rest is purchased from the national pool. The present shortage in coal supply has underscored the need to improve generation capacity. We can revive the project in future through consensus,” he said. The chairman said the decision will not have any impact on the 40 MW Mankulam Hydel project and the 7.5 MW Anakayam project which have got clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest.
The office of electricity minister K Krishnankutty also said the government will continue efforts to evolve a consensus in implementing the project. The government had issued a no-objection certificate for the project in 2020 which has a validity of seven years. So there is no question of scrapping the project. Meanwhile, KSEB has expedited the work on the 40 MW Thottiyar project and the 60 MW Pallivasal Extension project. The works were delayed as the Union government had opposed use of Chinese technology for power projects following which KSEB decided to look for Indian companies.
“The government is very supportive. We have expedited the works and the plan is to commission the project by May 31, 2022,” said an officer. Tenders have been floated for the erection of turbines at Pallivasal Extension scheme. The tender will be closed in November and the plan is to complete the work within 10 months. Civil works for construction of 1.3 km tunnel and laying of 76 m penstock pipe have been awarded and will be completed by May 31. The plan is to complete the project by September 2022.