Karnataka fast tracks power plant

By Deepa Kozhisseri
Published: Wednesday 15 July 2009

Says MoEF clearance for hydel project a formality

on may 23, chief minister B S Yeddyurappa laid the foundation stone of a 200 MW hydro-power plant at Yettinahole in Karnataka's Hassan district. About 20 activists, who threatened to wave black flags at the function, were arrested before they could enter the nearest town, Sakleshpur.

Environmentalists flayed the project on the Gundia river saying it is likely to submerge 800 hectares (ha) of forestland in the Western Ghats, one of the 25 biodiversity hot spots in the world. The allied activities may wipe out an added 800 ha. The project does not have the mandatory clearance from the Union Ministry of Forests and Environment (moef).

The Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (kpcl) claimed the Centre has given it permission to go ahead with the preliminary work like survey and inviting tenders. kpcl spokesperson M B Jayaram said, "We can't wait for total clearance as the rains will get in the way soon." He said the project has clearance from the forest department.

But the state forest conservator denied clearing the project. The project site is less than 10 km from the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the Malabar flying squirrel and the endangered slender loris. The moef prohibits such projects within 10 km of wildlife sanctuaries, said Kishore Kumar of non-profit Malenadu Janapara Horata Samiti that has filed objections to the project with moef.

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