Hydel project in sanctuary: greens slam approval ...

Hydel project in sanctuary: greens slam approval for survey

Heavy machinery to be used for drilling work of Sharavathi pumped storage hydel project inside the river valley.

The Forest department last week granted permission to Karnataka Power Corporation Limited to drill the ground for survey and geo-technical investigation for a power project, inside the Sharavathi Valley Lion-tailed Macaque Wildlife Sanctuary, but with stringent conditions.

This, despite opposition to the proposed 2,000-MW Sharavathi pumped storage hydroelectric project inside the Sharavathi Valley between Shivamogga and Uttara Kannada districts.

The proposal, accorded approval by the State Board for Wildlife in September 2019, was forwarded to the prime minister-headed National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). The NBWL, which met in April, gave its green signal to the study, subject to conditions imposed by the Chief Wildlife Warden of Karnataka.

The Chief Wildlife Warden granted permission a few days ago, to drill 12 bore holes of 2X2 inch diameter each. According to the order, a copy of which is with DH, “The survey has to be carried without any tree cutting or disturbance to wildlife. Drilling equipment has to be carried on the head. Drilling is allowed only between 9 am and 6 pm. No tents or staying arrangements are allowed at the site inside the sanctuary limits during night. The period of the work shall be for one year from the date of issuance of the order. Further, the survey work shall not be taken up during monsoon season.”

Joseph Hoover, Convener of the United Conservation Movement, said, “The state should not have hurried just because NBWL has given clearance for the proposal. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, in its order dated April 6, directed all states to restrict the movement of people to wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, besides initiating measures to stop transmission of Covid-19 from humans to animals and vice versa. Despite such an order, the state has given the go-ahead.”

According to sources in the Forest Department, Sagar, 14 personnel have come from Haryana to carry out the survey and drilling work.

 “They have deployed their machinery at a place near to the worksite. Looking at the machinery, one can understand that no human carry take them inside the forest on the head. Locals have urged the tahsildar to keep these workers under quarantine as they have come from different states,” an activist from Sagar said. Activists from Bengaluru and power policy analysts have appealed to the chief minister not to pursue the project, let alone the survey.

The project

The project is envisaged between the Talakalale and Gerusoppa reservoirs on the downstream of Linganamakki reservoir across Sharavathi river. It aims to use the run-off water by way of pumped storage. Planned to be an underground project, its eight units will generate 250 MW each. The project, worth Rs 4,862.89 crore, requires about 153 hectares of land (of which 150 acres is forest area).

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