Save Athirapally from Hydroelectric Project

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Dear Sir/Madam,

We kindly request you to read the whole petition including the people's impact, environmental and the alternate idea for the proposed Athirapally hydel power project.

‘Right to Development’ should be in parity with the right to Environment’. Of course Right to Development is a very important right and thus has been sanctioned with the freedom of exploitation of environment to achieve it. But this doesn’t mean the complete destruction of environment which will pave the way to the destruction of life existence.

We humbly request you and strongly urge you to take note of the following points and stop this destructive project. Please note that the dam is going to come in the Chalakudy river which is 144 kms long and the fifth largest river in Kerala. This river has been hugely dammed already for power generation as there are already six dams for power generation and one dam for irrigation (irrigating an area of 14,000 ha).

People Impact:
1. At least five lakh people from 19 panchayaths and two municipalities depend on the river for livelihood, irrigation and drinking water purpose. Once this dam comes up it will directly and indirectly affect these people as the flow of the river gets blocked and symied.

2. Hundreds of tribals make their home in the river basin. They belong to an endemic tribe called 'Kadar'. They have been living here for hundreds of years and are not settlers like we are in major cities. It will be a tragic day when they get displaced and end up in slums of Trivandrum or Cochin.

3. The famous Vazhachal and Athirappilly waterfalls visited by about 6 lakh people every year will be wiped out by the project. This will be a huge loss of tourist money for local economy and for Kerala's famed tourism industry.

Environmental Impact:
1. The submergence area ,part of Vazhachal forest division is the home to the endangered Tiger, Asiatic Elephant , Great Indian Hornbill, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Gaur, Lion Tailed Macaque,Nilgiri Langur and Cochin Forest Cane Turtle and the unique niche specific riparian forests.

2. The EIA has not done any scientific study of the ecological problems of submergence of the only remaining riparian forests at this altitude(200-300 mean sea level) in the entire Western Ghats.

3. The vital elephant corridor between the Parambikulam Sanctuary and the Pooyamkutty forests will also be affected as vast areas will be submerged.

4. Around 138.60 hectare of forest land will be diverted to KSEB for dam construction. This is roughly 13993083 SQ FT. Say if you are living in 1000 Sq Ft home, the loss of forest is like 15,000 homes like yours!!!!

Power generation angle:
1. The proposed HEP would depend only on the tailrace waters of Poringalkuthu (commissioned in 1958) HEP for power generation( 8x4=32 MW). Based on the past 22 yrs stream flow data , People's School of Energy, a research team of engineers from Kannur has calculated that electricity can be generated maximum of 20\% of the planned generation from December to peak summer period. So the claim for peak load generation of 163 MW in itself is false.

2. With rainfall plunging 20\% than expected, as many as 15 hydroelectric projects produced only 4,314 MU in 2003-04 compared to 7,305 million units (MU) of electricity in 1998-99. Considering that Kerala gets almost 60 per cent of its power from Tamil Nadu and other states, under-performing hydroelectric projects mean severe economic loss.

3. With rapid destruction of forest lands and due to climatic patterns, Kerala once regarded very safe for water is now struggling with repetitive droughts. Evidence: Kerala had an estimated forest cover of 44.4 per cent in 1900. Independent studies and satellite images show the forest cover came down to 14.7 per cent in 1983 and is 9 per cent now. But unfortunately your Government, which regards plantations as forests, says the cover is 27 per cent.

4. The proposed 160MW is less than 1\% of Kerala's current electricity production. This amount of power can be easily generated by sustainable wind farms, solar power, prevention of theft of power, cutting down transmission loss, etc, etc. Constructing a dam on an important river without even doing a proper EIA is the most unscientific way to generate power.

Law which give equal importance to both these rights, have legislated various statutes and Acts with the intention to avoid a contradiction between these rights. Through its landmark decisions, judiciary has always uphold the motto of ‘sustainable development’. Hence while stepping in to a new developmental program it should be kept in mind that the Environment is not affected drastically. As the students of law we will strive our best to uphold the ‘Right to Environment’ and ‘Right to Development’ together, in legal perspective. All efforts which are contradictory to the motto of sustainable development will be dealt legally and will be abandoned. The project “An Insight to Athirapally HEP in Legal Perspective” is one such effort.

In this project we are studying the proposed Athirapally Hydro Electric Project (H.E.P) and its environmental impact and how the authorities go on in violation of all the laws. We submit this project to remind that natural recourses are non-renewable once it is lose it is lost for ever and hence the aim should be towards sustainable development.

Thank you for all the support

Redrawlife Community

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