Friday, May 30, 2008

15. ENVIRONMENT. A Waterfall Refusing To Die!

A peaceful protest has been underway since Feb 25, 2008 at Athirappilly (Kerala, India) demanding the scraping of the proposed 163 MW Athirappilly hydroelectric power project. Over 70 different social, political, environmental, and youth organisations from across Kerala have continuedto support the protest. Despite the Government underplaying the significance of the protest, the picturesque waterfall is refusing to die. Two Public Interest Litigations have been under hearing with High Court of Kerala

As the peaceful protest at the proposed site for the controversial hydroelectric project at Athirappilly clocks hundredth day, the stand off between people and powers-that-be underscores the fact that growth engine remains unilaterally focused to undermine human rights and ecological costs. But is it the first time that an economically unviable and ecological destructive project has got the undesired push at the corridors of power?

Do the doubtful gains of the project measure up to the irreversible losses it will inflict on the environment and the tribal population? That it is hornbill habitat with home to four distinct species; that it has rich fish diversity with 104 different species; and that it is most frequented elephant corridor with a high density of 2.1 elephants per sq km seem at best relevant for the environmental discourses to follow!

Does it matter that the proposed 163-MW dam will displace 78 families of the Kadar tribe, the primitive hunter gatherers endemic to the river valley? Haven't displacement and rehabilitation been the persistent cry across river valley projects across the country? So, isn't the issue of rehabilitation of 1500 members of the primitive tribe on familiar grounds? All this to usher in the rare distinction on the 144-km long Chalakudy river, to be the most dammed river in the country....more

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