KPCL project may spell end of Bharachukki falls

Decks seem to be cleared for plant after approval from Tamil Nadu and Centre

The proposed site of KPCL’s hydel plant. dh photo

For, the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) is planning to set up a 345-megawatt (MW) hydroelectric plant at Shivanasamudra in the district, thereby robbing the Falls of a fair share of the abundant flow of water that makes it a treat to watch.

At a time when the twin waterfalls of Gaganachukki and Bharachukki were developing into great tourist spots, with the ‘jalapatotsava’ (festival of waterfalls) being organised in recent times, the power plant comes as a rude shock to nature lovers.

Survey work for the power project has been initiated. It is proposed to construct a 14-metre wall at a distance of one kilometre from the Bharachukki Falls.

The two-kilometre-long wall (upto Honnuru Gudda) will prevent the flow of water towards the Falls and the water will be used to generate electricity at the unit which will come up at Boodagattedoddi.

The project was proposed decades ago, but had been stopped in its tracks due to the objections raised by Tamil Nadu. The lower riparian state of the Cauvery river has now been convinced that water used for producing power will be let back into the river.

With the Centre also giving its nod, the decks seem to have been cleared for the project.

The construction of a retaining wall will also result in the submerging of 200 acres of fertile agriculture land. The retaining wall will prevent water from flowing to the Bharachukki Falls. Only when there is heavy rain and a flood-like situation will visitors be able to soak in the breathtaking sight of the Falls.

Environmentalists fear that since the power plant will be set up at Boodagattedoddi, it will not be possible for water to flow to the Bharachukki Falls. This virtually threatens the very existence of the waterfalls, they say.

The Cauvery river splits into two streams near Sattegala. While one stream flows to the Gaganachukki Falls, the other flows to the Bharachukki Falls. Already, a private company is generating power using the water flowing to the Gaganachukki Falls, thereby depriving water flow to the Falls. The Falls is now only a pale shadow of its former self.

Meanwhile, KPCL say there is no cause for concern as the project will be implemented using the surplus water flowing in the rainy season.

Only water required for the project will be utilised and the rest will be let into the river so that it can flow to the waterfalls, they say.

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