MP 'halts' power project for own political gain

Works completed in TN, Kerala; halted in Kodagu

The work on much touted high-tension electricity wire laying project from Mysore to Kozhikode via Kodagu as a part of Kudankulam nuclear power project which is expected to supply an additional 520 MW power to power deficient Karnataka, has come to a standstill, thanks to the political interests.

When the Power Grid Corporation initiated the work on laying the 400 KV high-tension electricity wire that passes through South Kodagu, with the police security on May 22, the work was stopped abruptly. The reason behind halting the work is said to be Mysore-Kodagu MP H Vishwanath who cast his political influence on the district administration and ensured that the work would not start.

The work on laying the wire has been completed in Kerala as well as in Tamil Nadu and the authorities are waiting to complete the work in Kodagu so that the project could be commissioned at the earliest. High-tension lines have been laid from Kozhikode in Kerala to Kutta (border of South Kodagu), and from Ilavala in Mysore to Lingapura (another border of Kodagu). Laying wires in South Kodagu is significant as it connects the already laid wires on both the sides.

According to sources, the Kodagu MP had halted the work on the project keeping in mind the forthcoming Parliamentary polls. As he had plans to contest from the same constituency again, it is learnt that he had decided not to take a chance by allowing the project to start in the district as it would affect the public sentiments.

Laying of high-tension wire would connect the wires in Manandavadi in Kerala via Maldare, Palibetta, Thithimathi, Devarapura, Ponnappasanthe, Kanur, Nalkeri and Kutta in South Kodagu. The project when announced had evoked strong opposition from environmental organisations, mainly because it would lead to mass destruction of forest land leading to the felling of over 10,000 trees, according to an estimate.

Attempts were made by some of the organisations to create public opinion when the project was announced.

The officers in their report submitted to the government had said that they had stopped the work as per the directions of the local MP. With it, the responsibility of taking a decision on the project has been now shifted on the shoulder of the chief minister who also holds the Energy portfolio.

The Power Grid Corporation had taken permission from all the concerned including the Karnataka government before initiating the project.

 For felling over 2,621 trees, the Corporation has paid Rs 98 lakh to the forest department. It had even sought permission from National Tiger Conservation Authority.

Project details

The Central government and the Power Grid Corporation jointly took up the Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu in 2001.

The project having the capacity to generate 2,000 MW electricity, mainly intends to supply electricity to power deficient Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry.  The total estimated cost of the project was Rs 15,400 crore.

“The unit in Kudankulam has been completed and the electricity can be supplied from this June if the work of laying high-tension wire is completed in all the beneficiary states,” said NTPC in its website.

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