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Jairam Ramesh attacks govt for its decision on Athirappilly

Jairam Ramesh attacks govt for its decision on Athirappilly

Kochi, Feb 28: Congress leader and former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today attacked the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala for its decision to implement a hydro-power project at ecologically sensitive Athirappilly in Thrissur district, describing it a "recipe for ecological disaster".

"The Congress is firmly opposed to this project," Ramesh said, hours after the Kerala government informed the state assembly that it plans to implement the project on the downstreams of Chalakudy river.

Ramesh, who had rejected green clearance to the project during his stint as the Environment Minister in the previous UPA government citing the ecological issues, told PTI that he would visit Athirappilly to give leadership to the people's movement against the project.

Accusing the LDF government of "playing in the hands of big contractors", he said, "CPM stands for Contractors Party of Marxist".

In a written reply in the state Assembly, Kerala Electricity Minister M M Mani today said a total 15 hydro power projects including the Athirappilly has been planned by the Kerala State Electricity Board.

The 163 MW project planned at the water resource bed of Chalakudy river was revived by the then LDF government headed by V S Achuthanandan.

Previous Congress-led UDF government also pressed for its clearance but faced strong resistance from ecologists and some politicians including senior Congress leaders like Ramesh and CPI's Binoy Viswam.

Ramesh noted that then Principal Chief Conservator of Forest T M Manoharan, who was the Chairman of the Kerala State Electricity Board under three Chief Ministers, had opposed the project citing the harm it could cause to the environment and ecology of the area.

Ramesh also said in a report in 2007, the Kerala State Biodiversity Board headed by B S Vijayan had also pointed out that the power project would adversely affect the ecology of the fragile land.

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