Saturday, February 20, 2010

Minister Balan reiterates conspiracy charge

Minister Balan reiterates conspiracy charge
T’PURAM: Kerala Electricity Minister A K Balan Saturday termed as `unfortunate' Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh's statement that the proposed Athirappally hydel project in Thrissur could not be given clearance.

Reiterating his charge that Ramesh's statement was part of a `conspiracy' to sabotage the project, he told reporters here that it came at a time when the matter was still before the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Centre.

The committee was formed after Kerala State Electricity Board replied to a notice from the Environment Ministry providing details about the project. With Ramesh's Friday's remarks, the committee could not now take an independent stand on the issue and would be "ineffectual", Balan claimed.

He said the proposed 163 MW project had been given clearance by Environment Ministry thrice--in 1998, 2005 and 2007, after the respective expert panels approved the project.

"No new environmental threat has been pointed out and there is no reason to deny clearance now," he said.

Kerala Government always addressed environmental issues in a positive way, he said and claimed only a `small minority' was opposing the Athirappally project.

It was unfortunate on the part of the Union Minister to come out with `misleading statements on a project approved by local people,' Balan said.

Dismissing Balan's charge of `conspiracy', Ramesh had Friday said the state bio-diversity board listed the project's adverse impact on environment. Besides, the district panchayat and various environmental groups have opposed the project on environmental grounds, he had said.

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