---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chalakudy river <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Date: 18 Jan 2008 17:32:44 -0000
Subject: Action Alert: Athirappilly Dam work to start by March

Dear friend
The long standing Athirappilly dam issue in Kerala, India has entered a very
critical phase and your support at this stage means saving a river, its
forests and its people from further devastation.
Please Take Action and circulate the below letter amongst your friends/
institutions/ organizations/ groups who are working for the conservation of
the Western Ghats and urge them to respond...
And please do it without delay.
Warm regards,
For our rivers to flow
S. Unnikrishnan, S.P Ravi, A. Latha, and all others
Campaign to Save Chalakudy River from Proposed 163 MW Athirappilly Dam
Enters Most Critical Phase
Kerala State Electricity Board to Start Work by March 31st 2008
The ongoing campaign against the proposed 163 MW Athirappilly Hydro Electric
Project across the Chalakudy River in Kerala Western Ghats has entered the
most critical phase with the decision of the Kerala State Electricity Board
( KSEB) to start the work by March 2008. Meanwhile the High Court of Kerala
has also issued directions to the KSEB to start work on the project by 31st
March 2008. This was made possible through a Judgment (WP (Civil) No. 31044
of 2007 judgment dated 01-01-2008) in the wake of a case filed by the
Hindustan Construction Company Ltd. (the Consortium which was awarded the
civil work contract in 2001) against KSEB challenging its move to re tender
the award of contract through fresh global tender. This direction given by
the Single Bench comes at a time when two PILs challenging the Environmental
Clearance and the Techno Economic Clearance, are pending in the High Court
Division Bench filed at a date earlier to the HCC approaching the Court.
The Issue - Update
As you are all aware, the people's struggle against the proposed
Athirappilly Hydro Electric Project has been going on since the year 2000.
The Environmental Clearance granted to the project has been cancelled twice
by the High Court of Kerala through its judgments of 17-10-2001 (
www.elaw.org/resources/text.asp?id=3057) and 23-03-2006 (
http://www.elaw.org/resources/text.asp?id=3083 ) in response to Public
Interest Litigations filed by the Chalakudy Puzha Samrakshana Samithi and a
downstream organization Nilanilpu during 2001 and by Athirappilly grama
panchayath, Kadar tribe Geetha and Er. Madhusoodhanan during 2005,
challenging the Environmental Clearance, the fabricated data base and gross
under estimation of the environmental and tribal impacts of the project. At
both the Court ordered Public Hearings on 6th Feb 2002 and 15th June 2006,
people from the river valley had rejected the project on social, economic
and environmental grounds. However, the KSEB and the Kerala State Pollution
Control Board that held the Public Hearing in 2006 tampered with the PH
proceedings. The River Valley Expert Committee that recommends the Clearance
for the project also made a site visit to the project area in April 2007 in
response to complaints received from the people and directions from the PMO
office and sensed people's resistance to implementation of the project.
However, the KSEB and the Kerala State Pollution Control Board obtained
Environmental Clearance for the project on 18th July 2007. Geetha and
Madhusoodhanan have again filed PILs in the High Court during October 2007
challenging the Environmental and Techno Economic Clearance respectively.
The case is pending in the High Court and yet to be heard.
What is the Loss?
Loss of Athirappilly Waterfalls – An ICON of the Chalakudy River, one of the
most visited tourist spots in South India, well placed in the Tourism map of
Loss of the last remaining riparian forest stretch in the river ( the rest
has been mostly submerged under the six dams upstream and dried up
downstream of the dams ) – perhaps the only remaining low elevation (
200-300 MSL) riparian stretch in Kerala Western Ghats
Submergence of most frequently used elephant route from Parambikulam Wild
Life Sanctuary to Pooyamkutty forests
Most frequent citing area of all the four Hornbills together in the Kerala
Western Ghats – Pied Hornbill cited most frequently
Vazhachal Forest Division within which the project area falls has very high
conservation value of 75% as per French Institute of Pondicherry's Studies
on Kerala State forests (second  to Mankulam Forest Division) – need for
preserving the area from further destruction
Endemic, highly endangered, primitive, forest dwelling and river dependent
Kadar tribal community under threat of loss of livelihood and habitat due to
the new dam. A tribe already displaced several times due to the dams
upstream with no proper rehabilitation package so far. Around 300 out of the
1500 number of the tribe remaining on earth to be displaced.
The habitat of one of the highest Fish Diversity Rivers (104 sp) in India to
be destroyed. Presence of riffles, pools and rapids in the river along with
riparian forests at low altitude sustains the high diversity of fish species
for a 144 km small river with five sp. new to science. Upstream area
recommended for a Fish Sanctuary by the National Bureau of Fish Genetic
Resources (NBFGR).
Drinking and irrigation water needs of lakhs of people to be severely
affected due to high daily flow fluctuation in the river. The Project is
intended to be operated as a peak load station from 6pm to 11 pm. The summer
flow in the river is already very low due to the peaking operation of the
existing 48 MW HEP just 3 km upstream of the dam and regulation by the other
five dams above out of which four divert around 40% water to Tamil Nadu via
Parambikulam Aliyar Inter State Inter Basin Treaty.
A seventh dam would mean the death of the river itself.............
Can we afford to lose this rich and diverse habitat and an equally unique
river system in the Western Ghats for a dam that has been proven to be
economically and technically unviable by experts?
The resistance is growing
Since the fresh Environmental Clearance granted to the project in July 2007,
people's resistance to the project has been increasing. Several political
parties and social and environmental groups have joined hands with the
movement to SAVE THE RIVER from further damming.
Several national level political leaders like Sri V.M.Sudheeran ex MP (
Congress I) , Sri C.K.Padmanabhan (BJP central committee member), Sri
Sreyams Kumar MLA (Janata Dal and Member, Legislative Committee for
Environment), several renown social leaders like Medha Patkar, Dr, Sukumar
Azhikode, Late Prof. M.N.Vijayan, Prof, Sobhindran (Vrikshamitra awarded)
renowned literary figures like Sugathakumari ( poet) , Prof. Sara Joseph (
writer) to name a few have already visited the project area, interacted with
the people, sensed the strong resistance to the project and declared their
support to the campaign.
Massive grass root level and regional campaigns like, rallies, conventions,
public meetings, debates, Satyagrahas, Dharnas (sit in), Poster exhibitions,
school and college level campaigns in collaboration with regional groups
across the state are going on since October 2007. A huge all party
convention with the intention of forming an Action Council  has been planned
on the 23rd January 2008 at Chalakudy.
However, the Government of Kerala is going ahead with the preliminary work
for starting the project implementation. The KSEB has asked the Kerala
Forest Department to release 25 ha. of forest for preliminary operations.
The High Court has also ordered the KSEB to start work by March 31st.
At this critical juncture, as you are well aware, the Court alone cannot be
relied upon. Support from every quarter is invaluable for the people in the
river valley to stop the project at any cost. The support from national and
international groups and institutions working for conserving the remnants of
wild areas across the globe is also significant to save this critical
habitat in the Southern Western Ghats. Support from every individual who is
concerned about the plight of the Western Ghats is relevant at this moment.
For the last five years, we have been constantly interacting with the
Chalakudy river basin local self governments (grama panchayaths), Kadar
tribes, women, students and other communities and collecting data and
information from different sources for the evolution of a participatory and
decentralized river restoration plan which is a unique venture even to
India. Moreover, several experts have pointed out that Chalakudy River being
one of the better studied rivers in India and with around 1,200 sq.km out of
the 1,704 sq.km catchment under Forest Department (though in a highly
fragmented state due to dams and plantations), chances of rejuvenation are
high compared to other rivers. Considering the uniqueness of the river for
the Western Ghats, and considering the increasing global level policy
significance to maintain the environmental flows of rivers, we appeal that
the Government should be focusing on taking steps to revive this river as a
sample case for India rather than aiding its further destruction.
Against all the above, we humbly request you to immediately write to the
Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Sri.V.S.Achuthanandan, the
Chief Minister of Kerala and Congress President, Smt. Sonia Gandhi to take
steps to stop the move to construct the proposed Athirappilly HEP across the
Chalakudy River and instead take steps to restore the river.
With hope and trust
For our rivers to flow..............................

Address to send/ mail the letters
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi,
India-110 011.
Telephone: 91-11-23012312.
Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857.

Chief Minster of Kerala
Room No.141,
Third Floor, North Block,
Govt. Secretariat,
Ph.0471- 2333812,
2332184, 2333591, 2333610
Fax. 0471-2333489

Smt. Sonia Gandhi,
President, Indian National Congress
10, Janpath,
NewDelhi - 110001.
Ph. (O) (011) 23017470, 23034285, 23016705, 23034984;
(R) 23014481, 23014161, 23792656

Given below are a few links to the news and information related to the
proposed project.

http://salimalifoundation.org/cpss.html (information)
Date:02/01/2008 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2008/01/02/stories ...
Date:24/03/2006 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2006/03/24/stories ...
Date:16/06/2006 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2006/06/16/stories ...
Date:08/01/2008 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2008/01/08/stories ...
Date:15/06/2006 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2006/06/15/stories ...
Date:27/09/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/09/27/stories ...
Date:13/04/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/04/13/stories ...
Date:19/09/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/09/19/stories ...
Date:14/04/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/04/14/stories ...
Date:20/01/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/01/20/stories ...
Date:20/02/2006 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2006/02/20/stories ...
Date:15/08/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/08/15/stories ...
Date:15/04/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/04/15/stories ...
Date:28/11/2005 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2005/11/28/stories ...
S.Unnikrishnan (09847283120)
A.Latha (91-487-6524110),
S.P.Ravi (09249898773, 09249122184),
Chalakudy Puzha Samrakshana Samithi
Chaithanya, Moozhikkakadavu, Pariyaram.P.O., Chalakudy 680721, Kerala, India

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