Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gundia Hydro Electric Project

Date: 25th May 2009
Shri. B.S. Yeddyurappa
H’ble Chief Minister and
Minister of Forests and Environment
Government of Karnataka
Vidhana Soudha
Bengaluru – 560 001

The Honorable Chief Minister Sri.Yeddyurappa, amidst protests by local communities, environmentalists and others, has laid the foundation stone on Saturday 23rd May 2009 for the Gundia Hydro Electric Project (GHEP) located amidst the serene and ecologically fragile Western Ghats.

The action of the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) in going ahead with the launch of the project is illegal since the project is yet to get clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). This is in violation of the order of the honorable Supreme Court which mandates compulsory permission from MoEF for undertaking Non-Forestry activities in Forest areas. Breaking the law cannot be the example set by the head of a state.

Further, the Honorable Chief Minister and KPCL contend that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) has been carried out by an independent agency. A Bangalore based agency has been hired by the Project promoters for carrying out the EIA and hence can hardly be considered as ‘independent’. And moreover the EIA report is also ridden with high technical irregularities regarding Flora and Fauna of the area to mislead the general public. The GHEP area has several endangered animals, birds and vegetation as recorded by various scientific studies including Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Wildlife Conservation Society – India Program and is identified as an area of irreplaceable value for biodiverdity in the entire Western Ghats.

The EIA study has not been undertaken by professionally qualified personnel who do not even have the basic knowledge of Zoological taxonomy. For instance PG-II, PARA 9 of the EIA states “PERUSAL OF THE VARIOUS FAUNAL SPECIES OBSERVED IN THE PROJECT AREA, INDICATES THAT THERE ARE NO MIGRATORY FAUNAL SPECIES OBSERVED IN THE AREA. THUS CONSTRUCTION OF THE RESERVOIR AS A PART OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT IS NOT EXPECTED TO CAUSE ANY ADDITIONAL BARRIER TO WILDLIFE MOVEMENT IN THE PROPOSED PROJECT AREA”.

The above statement is unsubstantiated, no field study or literature study has been undertaken by the EIA to state that there are no migratory faunal species observed in the area. While most of the mega fauna found in the GHEP area such as tiger, elephant, lion-tailed macaque are species with large home ranges migrating over large areas (elephant, tiger and lion-tailed macaques are all highly endangered animals, listed in Schedule1 of the Wildlife Protection Act which gives it utmost priority for protection). Their movement ranges over several sq. kms. and signs of Tigers, elephant are found all over the GHEP area. Gundia is one of the only three important locations in Karnataka where the Travancore Flying Squirrel (Petinomys fuscocapillus) is recorded according to scientific studies by wildlife biologists of Mysore University. It is also an important area for the endangered slender loris (Loris tardigradus) as recorded by the same University.

Hence the EIA should be declared as fraudulent and unacceptable. It is completely irrational to submerge and execute such a project at an enormous loss of wildlife and bio-diversity.
Construction of the GHEP involves many other development works such as roads, new human settlements, increased movement of people and vehicles etc. All these will lead to fragmentation of the forests, disturb the movement of Wildlife and provide easier access to people to carry out illegal activities such as poaching, timber-logging etc. Arboreal animals such as the Lion Tailed Macaque (LTM) that is endemic to this region and which are restricted to tree canopies will get increasingly isolated leading to the fragmentation and will weaken the gene-pool and eventual loss of this species. How does the CM intend to compensate these species for whom these forests are their homes?

The CM needs to realize that a Karnataka can become a model state not by only progressing on the infrastructure front, but by maintaining the proper balance between development and environment. The Pride of Karnataka is not just IT and BT but Tigers, Elephants and other Wildlife species which put Karnataka on the global map. We request the honorable Chief Minister not to go ahead with the project.

Yours sincerely,



Laxmeesha Acharya,
President, Kenneth Anderson Nature Society, Bengaluru

CC:
- Principal Secretary, Ecology and Environment, Government of Karnataka,
MS Building, Bengaluru – 560 001

- Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (General)
Aranya Bhavan, 18th Cross, Malleswaram, Bengaluru – 560 003

- Chief Wildlife Warden
Aranya Bhavan, 18th Cross, Malleswaram, Bengaluru – 560 003


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1 Comments:

Blogger mizhaavu said...

Hope that this project never comes and destroys our virgin forests. Save nature Save ourselves...

May 28, 2010 at 11:57 AM  

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