Kasturirangan panel visits Gundia

Members of the Centre-appointed committee, headed by Planning Commission member Prof K Kasturirangan, on Sunday inspected the proposed Gundia Hydro Electric project site in Sakaleshpur taluk in the district.

The panel will assess the extent of impact the proposed power project could have on the Western Ghats and, also evaluate the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel report (WGEEP). Representatives of Malnad Janapara Horata Samithi, members of Eco Club of Malnad College of Engineering, groups of local residents and coffee planters submitted memoranda to the Committee, urging it to ensure that the proposed project is spiked.

The Committee members held discussions with officials and select environment activists at the KPTCL office in Santhepet.  Malnad Janapara Horata Samithi president H A Kishore Kumar, green activists Hemmige Mohan, Shankar Verma, Suresh and others explained to the panel members how the proposed project will cause damage to the ecology, environment, flora and fauna of the Western Ghats. Besides, they sought to know from the Committee members the relevance of government setting up a second panel on the issue.

Prof Kasturirangan told presspersons that they had collected the opinions of State government, district administration, green activists and local residents. “We will submit a report to the Centre after studying the data collected,” he added.

The nine-member panel has completed its field visits in Maharashtra. The Committee that visited Gundia included Prof C R Babu of Delhi University, J M Mauskar, former special secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, former official of Forest department Dr Jagadish Kishwan, Dr Darshan Shankar of Ayurveda and Integrated Medicine Institute, Bangalore, Dr P S Ray and Irani Chandrashekar.

The WGEEP, headed by Madhav Gadgil, had advised the Centre and the State not to execute the power project owing to the fact that the project fell within the ecologically sensitive zone of the Western Ghats.

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