Pathrakkadavu, Kerala, mai 2007
Pathrakadavu project will affect Silent Valley
A critical overview on the proposed hydro-electric project at Pathrakadavu, Kerala and the details of the resistence movements.
The Kerala Nadi Samrakshana Samithi and the Association for Environment Protection have urged the Government to withdraw from the Pathrakadavu hydroelectric project. The samithi representatives said that the project would adversely affect the biodiversity of the Silent Valley National Park. They argued that the project would have an impact on the long-term viability of the existing park. Ironically the distance between the boundary of the Silent Valley and the dam was less than 50 meters.
The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) proposes to construct a Hydroelectric Project across the river Kunthi at Pathrakadavu approximately 500 m from the southern border of the Silent Valley National Park. The project aims at generating 70 MW of power. The cost of the project is approximately Rs. 247.06 crores (1999 estimate) which has now been revised to approximately Rs. 420.00 crores.
Environmentalists said the area proposed for the dam site was within the already proposed buffer area of the Park and adjoining the core of Silent Valley. In fact the national park was set up to protect the unique ecology and biodiversity of the Silent Valley Reserve Forest. Attempts to set up a dam would adversely affect the ecology.
Environmentalists said that blasting of rocks for the construction of dam for the Pathrakadavu project would create serious seismic disturbance.
Environmental Impact Assessment Study
The Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) has come out with a detailed report on the Environmental Impact Assessment done for the hydroelectric project. It is a revealing document that shows the imminent danger to one of the fragile remnants of a rich ecosystem in this monsoon rainforest region of the world.
The Environmental Resources Research Centre, Thiruvananthapuram has done EIA of the project. The EIA has tried to cover various aspects of the projects such as geology, soil, land use, seismicity, hydrology, water quality, aquatic biology, socio economics and cultural environment, impacts on land, water and air, impact on human environment and attempted to give an environment management plan based on inter-alia calculating the labour force to be employed for the project, waste water treatment, facility for disposal of solid waste.
Based on five-months study, the EIA has listed the major floristic and faunistic elements in the project area. There are, as per the report, 381 species of flowering plants, out of which 55 are endemic and seven are rare according to the IUCN category.
Species : No
Mammals : 23
Birds : 79
Reptiles : 22
Amphibians : 14
Fishes : 18
Butterflies : 43
The EIA highlights that laying of road to the dam site would make easy approach to the Silent Valley National Park. Currently, the major approach to the national park is only through Mukali. The new road for the project would therefore be disastrous for the protection of the Silent Valley National Park and hence the EIA suggests proper check posts at the dam site.