Thiruvananthapuram: Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy opined that the Athirapilly hydel project must not be proceeded unilaterally, stressing that there needs to be a consensus on any future proceedings. The leader was cited as taking a stand different from that of the leader of opposition, Ramesh Chennithala, who had categorically demanded the LDF government must drop the 163 MW project on the Chalakudy river in Thrissur district.
"There is a need for reaching a common ground after holding meetings," Chandy told reporters when asked about the government's move to review the project, adding that environmental protection was crucial.
The previous UDF government headed by Chandy had written to the center urging it to implement the project, holding that the project, when commissioned, would benefit the state. However, Chennithala downplayed Chandy's statement and said there was no dispute in the UDF over the subject.
Athirapilly Hydoelectric Project
Watch this video to know more about the proposed dam, that has been entangled in controversies since 1982.
"What Chandy and I said are the same", he said adding that what Chandy had opposed was the unilateral move from the government to implement the project. Earlier, Chennithala had also made it clear that the UDF would stop the project at any cost as it was harmful for the environment. The KPCC president MM Hassan had also come out in support of Chennithala.
The project shot into focus recently after incumbent power minister M M Mani informed the assembly that preliminary works on the project had begun. Earlier, the government had stated that the project would be implemented only through consensus.
The reports that Kerala State Electricity Board had put up a transformer in the project area fueled speculations that the government was going ahead with the project despite protests from environmentalists.
Kanam Rajendran, state secretary of CPI, a partner of the ruling LDF and a strong opponent of the project, had said that just because a transformer had been set up in the project area did not mean that the government was going ahead with the project. The project, mooted in 1982, repeatedly ran into trouble and was kept in abeyance by successive governments due to protests from local people and environmentalists.