Power Ministry strikes down Karnataka's appeal; says, high-tension power line wi

The Ministry of Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy has struck down Karnataka’s appeal  to review the present route for implementation of the 400 kV Double Circuit transmission line between Mysuru in Karnataka and Kozhikode in Kerala via Kodagu district in Karnataka.

In a letter addressed to Mysuru-Kodagu MP Prathap Simha on December 12, Minister of State for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal has stated that the controversial project has been reviewed several times by—including the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT), and since no alternative routes or options could be figured out, the Ministry would be forced to go ahead with the project.
Goyal’s letter is in response to Simha’s letter to him dated July 27 (received on October 17).

Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) was entrusted with the task of constructing the interstate transmission line in March 2005, to be completed by December 2007. The selected route was finalised as per the Forest Clearance dated February 7, 2012 (Karnataka stretch) by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, and subsequent issue of the order by the Karnataka government on March 2, 2012, for diversion of forest land.

“The route avoids wildlife protected areas, including the nearby Nagarhole National Park and Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary. It also involves usage of minimum forest land,” Goyal has stated in the letter.

Goyal goes on to add that the State government had convened consultation meetings on April 24, 2012; October 22, 2012; February 21, 2014; and April 29, 2014, involving experts, affected population and NGOs to resolve issues concerning the route of transmission line. Also, a writ petition filed by some NGOs in Karnataka High Court and NGT, Chennai, against the project, had also been dismissed by the Court.

Further, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), a body set up by the Supreme Court in March this year, after detailed hearing on September 25, 2014, opined that there was no merit in the application.

Goyal has also referred to the High Power Committee comprising experts (Shivakumar Aradhya - Central Power Research Institute, Bengaluru; ecologist Raman Sukumar; and IFS officer Ajai Misra) constituted by the Chief Minister of Karnataka in April this year, which held deliberations with the stakeholders, including various NGOs and after site visit and verification, submitted its report to the State government in August this year.

The report stated that the route selected by PGCIL was the most optimum/feasible route.
“The report had inter-alia examined all alternatives including the possibility of underground cabling, which was found not suitable on technical grounds. The project has been delayed for nearly seven years, on account of aforesaid issues.

This has more than doubled the cost of the project itself, and it is also a nagging bottleneck in transmitting power to Southern Region, including Karnataka, resulting in power shortages in the region. Already 155 km of line has been erected, and only 55 km is in balance due to disputes,” the letter states, requesting the Karnataka government to provide the required assistance in restarting the project.

Appeal to George

Expressing discontent over the letter, Coorg Wildlife Society President, Colonel Muthanna said that the Society, which has already moved the court, would now make a strong appeal before Home Minister and Kodagu District-in-charge Minister K J George.
“PGCIL has identified the longest and the most expensive route, causing the greatest ecological damage. This means - a bigger project, and bigger money. PGCIL could have drawn the line from coast to coast, instead of this circuitous route. The district-in-charge minister should take initiative and ensure that proper justice is done,” he added.

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