Experts, locals oppose project to make Jog all-season waterfall

Last Updated 25 September 2016, 19:53 IST

 Engineers, green activists and local residents have strongly opposed the state government’s proposed project to make Jog Falls, Shivamogga district, a perennial waterfall. The government is wasting money and electricity to make the Rs 450-crore project a reality, they contend.

K Prahallada Rao, a retired engineer from the Sharavathy hydroelectric plant, says that 74.17 million units of energy was needed to pump 400 cusecs of water for eight hours per day for 244 days to a height of 330 metres. This means that all the power generated at the plant will be used to pump water, leaving less or no power for the grid.

Other veteran engineers, working staff of the region and local residents, too, oppose the idea. “The idea was first mooted by minister Kagodu Thimmappa, who is an MLA from Sagar,” said Krishna, a resident of Sagar. “It would be an engineering disaster.”

An engineer from the Sharavathy station, on condition of anonymity, said the whole plan was “unscientific”. To recycle water from the 330-metre-deep gorge, a kilometre-long underground tunnel needs to be dug to carry water. The blasting and drilling for the tunnel will disturb the fragile rocky terrain of the Western Ghats, he said.

Environmentalists, too, do not seem convinced about the project. Ananth Hegde Ashisara, an environmentalist from Uttara Kannada, said that the government should look at the whole area, including Aghanashini, Katlekan and Gersoppa, before taking the final decision. The whole area is an eco- sensitive zone.

According to Rao, 2.10 tmcft of water is required to show Jog Falls in full flow for eight hours every day. Incidentally, more water than this is being generated as renewable resource in the vicinity of Jog Falls every year, which has been ignored. With a proper conservative management planning, the same project can be executed at a cost of Rs 30 crore, he said.

Rao said that he, along with others, tried to air their suggestions before the Tourism Department and the Jog Management Authority, but were shunted away.

They now demand a public consultation meeting on the project.
On August 17, 2016, the Cabinet approved the proposal to make Jog Falls a perennial waterfall and handed over the project to BRS Ventures, owned by B R Shetty, an Indian businessman from Abu Dhabi.

Rao said that the government could consider arranging to release 2.80 tmcft of water from Linganamakki dam directly instead of recycling water for Jog Falls and saving 74.17 million units of pumping energy. The same energy, if it were to be sourced from the Sharavathy plant, would account for 2.80 tmcft of water being used from Linganamakki reservoir to produce the much-needed electricity.

He said that it was an “unrealistic optimism” to generate 33.22 MW of sustained power during the monsoon from the reversible turbine facility used to make the waterfall perennial. To generate this, 33.22 MW power water at the rate of 400 cusecs has to be made available from the envisaged Sitakatte bridge storage. 

Realistic field assessments, on the other hand, reveal that the maximum run-off in the 15.5-sq km intra region between Sitakatte and Kargal Anicut is not more than 52.93 million cubic metres against the required 155.32 million cubic metres (5.48 tmcft), he said.

‘Will look into technical details’

Tourism Minister Priyank Kharge, who is also the chairperson of Jog Management Authority, said that he was unaware of the technical details of the project and would look into them. He said the Central government was yet to clear the project and that the final details would be evaluated only after that.

(Published 25 September 2016, 19:53 IST)

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