Save Western Ghats from Gundia Hydel Power Project

  • by: Syed Tanveeruddin
  • recipient: Hon'ble Supreme Court, President, PM, MoEF, WGTF, ECB, Guv, CM,

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Last Update: Sat, Nov 07, 2009 @ 03:20 hrs Indian Std. Time or IST
Petition's been sent to all its/the addressees on Mon, Jun 29, 2009.
CONTROVERSIAL: The Gundia project site where the first stage of the power unit will come up in Sakleshpur taluk in Hassan district. - The Hindu Saturday, May 23, 2009
CONTROVERSIAL: The Gundia project site where the first stage of the power unit will come up in Sakleshpur taluk in Hassan district.
Opposition to Gundia power project growing; black flag protest on May 23, 2009 The Hindu, Hassan, Saturday, May 23, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/23/stories/2009052355380600.htm
Brewing controversy: The Gundia hydro-electric project site. - The Hindu, Mon, Oct 20, 2008
Brewing controversy: The Gundia hydro-electric project site.
Gundia project will prove disastrous: activists - The Hindu, Hassan, Monday, Oct 20, 2008
http://www.hindu.com/2008/10/20/stories/2008102053000300.htm 
Soak in the beauty of the Kumara Parvata, one of the highest and most scenic peaks in Karnataka, listening to the birds and watching the sunset - The Hindu, Sat, May 19, 2007
Soak in the beauty of the Kumara Parvata, one of the highest and most scenic peaks in Karnataka, listening to the birds and watching the sunset - The Hindu, Saturday, May 19, 2007
http://www.hindu.com/mp/2007/05/19/stories/2007051950980200.htm
Soak in the beauty of the Kumara Parvata, one of the highest and most scenic peaks in Karnataka, listening to the birds and watching the sunset - The Hindu, Sat, May 19, 2007
Soak in the beauty of the Kumara Parvata, one of the highest and most scenic peaks in Karnataka, listening to the birds and watching the sunset - The Hindu, Saturday, May 19, 2007
http://www.hindu.com/mp/2007/05/19/stories/2007051950980200.htm
IN THE CENTRE OF CONTROVERSY: Quiet flows the Gundia in Shikaripur taluk of Hassan district notwithstanding the controversy over a proposed hydel project. - The Hindu Wednesday, Jan 03, 2007
IN THE CENTRE OF CONTROVERSY: Quiet flows the Gundia in Shikaripur taluk of Hassan district notwithstanding the controversy over a proposed hydel project. Photo- The Hindu, Shimoga, Wed, Jan 03, 2007
Environmental report on Gundia hydel project kicks up a row
http://www.hindu.com/2007/01/03/stories/2007010302450400.htm
DOOMED: A pond, near Hongadahalla, which will be submerged by the backwaters of the Gundia project. - The Hindu, Mon, Dec 11, 2006
DOOMED: A pond, near Hongadahalla, which will be submerged by the backwaters of the Gundia project. - The Hindu, Mon, Dec 11, 2006
Gundia project hits roadblock - The Hindu, Mon, Dec 11, 2006
http://www.hindu.com/2006/12/11/stories/2006121102400400.htm
Preserve the pristine beauty: A waterfall in full spate in the Western Ghats. - The Hindu, Fri, Mar 11, 2005
Preserve the pristine beauty: A waterfall in full spate in the Western Ghats - The Hindu, Hassan, Friday, Mar 11, 2005
http://www.hindu.com/yw/2005/03/11/stories/2005031101210300.htm
Bleak picture: A file photo of the Linganmakki reservoir near Jog Falls in Shimoga district in Western Ghats. - The Hindu, Mon, Jun 29, 2009
Bleak picture: A file photo of the Linganmakki reservoir near Jog Falls in Shimoga district in Western Ghats. - The Hindu, Shimoga, Mon, June 29, 2009
Hydel power generation coming to a standstill in the Karnataka State - The Hindu, Shimoga, Mon, June 29, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/06/29/stories/2009062956960100.htm
Major reservoirs go dry in Karnataka as monsoon plays truant

Officials not 'live' to serious power crisis in Karnataka State - Electricity Act 2003 violated coz of State Govt interferenceExperts- Deccan Herald, Fri, July 03, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/11465/officials-not-live-serious-power.html

Silver lining for Karnataka State on power front as rain clouds gather The Hindu Thu, Jul 02, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/07/02/stories/2009070257240100.htm

Dry monsoon halts power generation in Karnataka
Deccan Herald or DH, Thu, Jul 02, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/11224/dry-monsoon-halts-power-generation.html

Splendid beauty Jog Falls gone sore Times of India, Wed, July 01, 2009
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Mysore/Splendid-beauty-gone-sore/articleshow/4721706.cms 

The world famous Jog Falls, which used to enthral lakhs of visitors during monsoon for its magnificent view encompassing the gracious 
Sahyadri mountains where river Sharavathi gushes from 810 feet as four separate water falls
, is drying up to a mere trickle.

Sharavathi, which flows through hilly tracks of Western Ghats is a major source of hydel power at Sharavathi power generating stations, which caters to 35% of the power need of the Karnataka state.

No power crisis in Karnataka State: Energy Minister Eshwarappa Deccan Herald or DH Tue, June 30, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/10894/no-power-crisis-state-eshwarappa.html
''As of now, there is no power crisis in State; but if it does not rain, God should save us,'' said Minister for Energy and the District-in-Charge K S Eshwarappa.

Presently, the Karnataka State is generating 7,000 MW power
. Centre is giving us 1,543 million units of power. It is just 17 per cent of the State's requirement. But, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are getting 33 per cent of their actual consumption from the Centre, the minister said.

Last year (in 2008), the Centre's given only 1,100 MW power
. The issue has been discussed with Union Minister for Energy Sushil Kumar Sindhe. He has been urged to provide at least 2,500 MW power to the Karnataka State, Eshwarappa explained.

Power wastage's been curbed. It was 26 per cent earlier which has come down to 22 per cent. There has been electricity theft worth Rs 18 crore. A sum of Rs 100 crore has been collected as fine, he informed.

'Lobbies scuttling Gundia project' Deccan Herald or DH Mon, June 29, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/10683/lobbies-scuttling-gundia-project.html

Pre-construction clearance

Karnataka State government has commenced the work on Gundia project after availing pre-construction clearance from the Centre. State will comply with the laws while implementing the project. The provisional clearance will allow the State to go ahead with the survey work, the minister said.

Centre's objection

When quizzed about the possibility of the Centre raising objection against power projects on feasibility grounds, Eshwarappa said,

"Be it Gundia or Tadadi, we are expecting co-operation from the Centre. Both Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Union Minister for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh have motivated us to go ahead with Tadadi project," the minister said.

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh raps Karnataka Chief Minister Yeddyurappa on Gundia hydel project Deccan Herald or DH Sat , June 27, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/10366/jairam-ramesh-raps-yeddyurappa-gundia.html
The Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has reprimanded Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, for laying the foundation stone for Gundia hydel project in Hassan district without obtaining the mandatory environmental clearance.

The Karnataka Power Corporation's or KPC's project, which seeks to set up two 200 MW units, has run into a major ecological controversy with environmentalists and civil society groups opposing it tooth and nail.

They argue that it involves destruction of hundreds of acres of thick pristine forests of the Western Ghats - one of the world's premiere biodiversity hotspots.

In his letter to Yeddyurappa on June 20, Ramesh said the hydel project would lead to drowning of almost 1,900 acres of dense forests in the 'already endangered Western Ghats. This is something that both Karnataka and our country can ill afford."

No green clearance

The minister was particularly upset on laying the project's foundation stone on May 26 without the mandatory central green clearance.

"I do not think that environmental clearances should be taken for granted any longer. We have to go through the process as laid down by law, and we should not consider this process a routine formality," the minister said.

Admitting that Karnataka needs to increase its power generation capacity, the Union minister said, this should not happen at the cost of ecological security.

The first phase of the project, which will be implemented in four years, at a cost of Rs 1,120 crore, is expected to generate 613 million units power at the rate of Rs 1.90 per unit.

The project - opposed by the environmentalists from the beginning - will be built across Gundia river, a tributary of the Kumaradhara, with its source in the Western Ghats near Kudremukh of Chikmaglaur district.

The river flows through the districts of Hassan and Dakshina Kannada piercing through forests.

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh objects to starting work on Karnataka power project Indian Express Saturday, June 27, 2009
http://www.indianexpress.com/election-news/ramesh-objects-to-starting-work-on-karnataka-power-project/481820 

Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has written a letter to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa objecting to the start of work on the 200-megawatt Gundia Hydel Project in the Western Ghats which has not yet received environmental clearance. Under Ramesh, the Ministry is trying to make standards for environmental clearance more public, while objecting to the laying of foundation stones before projects get the nod.


The letter, dated June 20, 2009 also indicates that the project will be detrimental to the ecology of the area. "I have received information that the project in Hassan district will submerge almost 1,900 acre of thick forest in the already endangered Western Ghats. This is something we can ill afford," said the letter.

In a draft proposal the Ministry has suggested changes to clearance systems, which include making public an annual environmental statement, a six-monthly update report, and status of compliance by the project proponent. This is to increase public scrutiny even at the clearance level, till now perceived as easy to get.

Ramesh said he also wanted to see more rejections
.

Gundia hydel project: Is it worth the ecological cost? Deccan Herald or DH Wed, June 25, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/10166/gundia-hydel-project-worth-ecological.html

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is entrusted with the responsibility of protecting our forests, rivers and environment so that a sustainable and healthy lifestyle is achievable for our people.

Protecting the ecologically precious and highly sensitive natural resources such as Western Ghats and Himalayas from damaging hydel projects is one amongst a few important mandates for the MoEF.

In this background, the ability of the MoEF to prevent the harm to the already devastated Western Ghats will be severely tested by the 2x200 MW Gundia hydel project being proposed by the Karnataka Power Corporation in Hassan district.

This project proposal to utilise its installed capacity for only 32 per cent of the time is probably one of the least beneficial hydel projects to our society because of the huge socio-environmental costs associated. The total land requirement of more than 973 hectares, including 754 hectares of thick evergreen forests, will have a major impact on the bio-diversity rich Western Ghats.

There are many endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna in this area, which may not be effectively rehabilitated. It is very unfortunate for the peninsular India that the concerned authorities have ignored the fact that Western Ghats is one of the few bio-diversity hotspots in the world.

No analysis of various costs and benefits of the project have been carried out in an objective way to determine whether the project is in the overall interest of the society. At a time when global warming has become an existential issue for the humankind and for a densely populated country of ours, the proposed destruction of thick rainfall forests of Western Ghats will only exacerbate global warming. Additionally, the National Forest Policy target of 33 per cent forest and tree cover can never be achieved if we continue to destroy the natural forests of highest ecological value.

Because of the irrational set of procedural issues needed to get clearances this project had no objective analysis of pros and cons to the society. The severe opposition to the proposed Gundia project and the irrefutable evidence of potential harm to the nature has largely been ignored by the concerned authorities of the Union and state governments.


The systemic weaknesses in according clearances to such high impact projects are so many and so pervasive that state governments seem to be convinced that getting environmental clearance is only a matter of time and that it is just a political game.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for Gundia project contains many misrepresentations and false claims, but the approval process does not allow these to be brought to the notice of the ministry because only the project proponent is allowed to make presentation. Very often the minutes of the public hearing contain gross misrepresentations and generally fail to record the issues objectively, basically to favour the project proponent.

Green / Environmental clearance

Unless the people opposing the project on socio-environmental grounds are given adequate opportunity to explain their viewpoints, and unless such views are taken into objective account, the process of environmental clearance can at the best be termed as a charade.

There is no scope for the public to know how far the benefits outweigh the costs in Gundia project proposal. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) has recorded direct costs only to the project proponent without even mentioning the societal costs. Additionally, the DPR has not discussed the various options available to meet the stated objective of generating electricity.

It is sad to know that the DPR has no mandate to assure the public that all the alternatives available are discussed and that the best option in society's interest is chosen. In the case of Gundia hydel project, no other alternative to get 400 MW or its equivalent is discussed. In such a case how does the project proponent demonstrate to the public that it is the best option available?

The benefits to our society from the ecological services of 754 hectares of bio-diversity rich forests alone can be many times more than the meagre benefit from the proposed project. There are many benign options such as replacing the inefficient incandescent lamps by energy efficient CFLs, reducing the T&D losses, energy conservation and demand side Management to get more than 400 MW of equivalent power.

The people have a right to know as to how the proposed Gundia hydel project is less harmful as compared to the Bedthi hydel project proposal in Uttara Kannada district, which was shelved in 1980s due to massive opposition on environmental grounds. As an integral part of our democracy all stakeholders should be consulted effectively and the authorities concerned should demonstrate to them that such a high impact project is essential.

Without an objective analysis of all related issues and without taking the support of the stakeholders to continue with such a ghastly project will be a serious setback to the welfare of our society and a mockery of our democracy.

Gundia project: A boon or bane? - Bangalore - Cities - The Times ... Times of India or TOI, June 25, 2009
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com//Cities/Gundia-project-A-boon-or-bane/articleshow/4618567.cms

The Karnataka state in India seems to be sitting mutely on an ecological disaster. The state government is going ahead with the Gundia hydel power project despite green concerns. In fact, 456 hectares of forestland will be razed in phases starting November 2009 to make way for the project. The pre-construction work has started.

The meteorological department has warned of major impact on climate due to the massive destruction.

According to Wildlife Conservation Society, the project area falls within 9.5 km radius from the boundary of the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. The project violates the order of ministry of environment and forests which restricts such activities 10 km from the protected area boundary as it is an eco-sensitive zone.

Gundia is one of the three important locations in Karnataka where the Travancore flying squirrel and the slender Loris are found.

But the KPCL has its own take. "The proposed project and the catchment areas do not have any wildlife sanctuaries and animal corridors. It is in effect about 30 km away from Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, about 60 km from Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and about 90 km from the Kudremukh Wildlife Sanctuary. Hence, no impacts on visible sanctuaries and animal corridors are expected. The minor ones, if any, are insignificant."

Environment Impact Assessment by Institute for Catchment Studies & Environmental Management too says that since there are no migratory species in the zone, the project will not affect any animal corridors.

Interestingly, weather being a significant aspect, the State Meteorology Department has not been consulted either by the Karnataka Power Corporation or by the Environmental Clearance Board.

State MET director A Muthuchami said that though Indian Meteorological Department is a member of the ECB in all states, in Karnataka MET officials were not consulted by the board. "Eversince I took over, ECB has not consulted us for any project. So all projects that have been approved by the ECB in the last one and half year do not have the consent of the weather department in the state."

He said: "Apart from anticipated landslide and inducing seismic events, there is possibility of the project having overall impact on the hydro cycle in the area, resulting in gradual decrease in rainfall."

As the check dams will be constructed across the streams, downstream areas in the region are likely to be affected from water shortage due to decrease in stream and groundwater table, especially during summer.

But the KPCL is firm. "There are not enough employment opportunities, cardamom yields are low, coffee rates are fluctuating. The local people are not bothered about how many frogs or birds will die. A development project like this one is needed and will be taken forward," KPCL chief engineer S Ramesh said.

"Proposals were submitted two months back to the ministry and an informal clearance letter has been received. Work will start in November," he added. KPCL representatives are expected to meet the environment ministry on June 15 and 16 to get formal clearance.

'Do not give clearance for Gundia power project' - MGP to MoEF The Hindu, Wed, Jun 24, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/06/24/stories/2009062457660300.htm 

Drawing the Minister%u2019s attention to Article 48A of the Constitution, Maj. Gen. Vombatkere said that he believed that the Article mandated that the Sate should protect the environment which was facing threat from the Gundia project.

Two solar plants to start generation by December 2009 The Hindu Friday, June 12, 2009
http://www.hinduonnet.com/2009/06/12/stories/2009061254170500.htm

Karnataka Power Corporation Limited or KPCL Managing Director S. M. Jaamdar said the clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests was expected to be given for the Gundia hydel project on June 15, 2009. The project which has two units with a capacity of 200 MW each is being implemented in Sakleshpur taluk of Hassan district.

He said the KPCL would take up only the "pre-construction works" with respect to Gundia project.

Chairman of Western Ghats Task Force or WFTF Ananth Hegde Ashisar says he'd have opposed Gundia project The Hindu Tuesday, May 26, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/26/stories/2009052659040300.htm

Chairman of Western Ghats Task force Ananth Hegde Ashisar has said he'd have opposed the Gundia hydel project if he'd not been holding the post of chairman of the task force.

To a question on whether he'd have opposed the Gundia hydel project if he was not the chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force, he answered in the affirmative. He claimed that he was not aware of the details of the project.

He said he'd seek detailed reports to study the feasibility of the project and take appropriate steps to recommend to the Government on whether to go ahead with the project.

Gundia hydel power project is illegal, its impact catastrophic: protesters Times of India May 25, 2009
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Bangalore/Gundia-hydel-power-project-is-illegal-its-impact-catastrophic-protesters/articleshow/4577141.cms 
Citizen groups have described the government's move to launch work on the 200-MW Gundia hydel power plant as catastrophic.

Save The Western Ghats campaign, the Appiko movement, and Bangalore-based Kenneth Anderson Nature Society are up in arms against the 'illegal' project. They said KPCL, by going ahead with the project without clearance from the ministry of environment and forests, is acting in violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

"According to the Act, it is mandatory to get permission for diversion of more than 40 hectares of forest land. In this project, the government has admitted the need to clear 700 hectares," Save The Western Ghats Campaign convener Panduranga Hegde said.

The protesters stressed that destruction of the Western Ghats will not only cause decimation of biodiversity, but also accelerate impact of global warming. "The silence of the Western Ghats Task Force is a clear indication that the government got the green signal from them," he added.

KANS members said the environment impact assesment report for the project shows technical irregularities. "The area has several endangered animals, birds and vegetation as recorded in studies by the Indian Institute of Science and Wildlife Conservation Society. Gundia is one of three locations in Karnataka where the Travancore flying squirrel is found. It is also an important habitat for the endangered slender loris," KANS president Laxmeesha Acharya said.
Aravind Limbavali - The Hindu, Mon, May 25, 2009
Aravind Limbavali - The Hindu, Mon, May 25, 2009
Hassan district in-charge BJP Minister Aravind Limbavali shies away from Hassan district The Hindu Monday, May 25, 2009
http://www.thehindu.com/2009/05/25/stories/2009052551810300.htm

He has visited the district only eight times in the last one year

Hassan district in-charge Minister Aravind Limbavali has created a record of sorts by abstaining from several government functions in Hassan district.

He has visited the district only eight times in the last one year.

He did not participate in the Independence Day programme or Republic Day programme in Hassan.

Displeasure

Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in the district had conveyed their displeasure over the "neglect" of Mr. Limbavali towards Hassan. During campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections, Mr. Yeddyurappa had assured the party leaders that the Hassan district in-charge Minister would be changed after the elections.

Mr. Limbavali did not visit Hassan during the electioneering.

He was not present at the foundation-stone laying ceremony for the Gundia hydel power project on Saturday.

He did not visit the project site even when there were agitations against the project nor he discussed the matter with environmentalists.

Work begins under security blanket - Only mediamen and officials attend foundation laying function of Gundia project Deccan Herald or DH
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/4160/work-begins-security-blanket.html
Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa laid the foundation stone for phase I of Gundia Hydro Power Project at Yettinahole near here, on Saturday.

The venue, located at about 20 kms from Sakleshpura, resembled a garrison with large presence of policemen and paramilitary forces. Policemen were posted at every 100 meters on Sakleshpur-Gundia stretch.

Only officials and mediamen and ubiquitous police personnel were present at the the function.
Opposition to dam: The former Sakleshpur MLA H.M. Vishwanath (left) staging a rasta roko on National Highway 48 in Sakleshpur on Saturday in protest against the Gundia hydroelectric project. - The Hindu, Sunday, May 24, 2009
Opposition to dam: The former Sakleshpur MLA H.M. Vishwanath (left) staging a rasta roko on National Highway 48 in Sakleshpur on Saturday in protest against the Gundia hydroelectric project. - The Hindu, Sun, May 24, 2009
Police swarm Karnataka Chief Minister's or CM's route to Gundia project site - The Hindu, Sun, May 24, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/24/stories/2009052454090400.htm
24 protesters detained in Sakleshpur till Yeddyurappa's departure

It was virtually a "police raj" in Sakleshpur on Saturday, May 23, 2009 during the visit of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who arrived from Haveri by helicopter, to lay the foundation stone of the Gundia hydroelectric project.

Over 1,000 police personnel including members of the Rapid Action Force or RAF, the Karnataka State Reserve Police or KSRP and the District Armed Reserve or DAR and their vans could be seen all along the route from Sakleshpur to the Gundia project site, a distance of about 26 km.

Malnad Janapara Horata Samiti president H.A. Kishore Kumar, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha district president Kanagal Murthy and 22 others were arrested at Sakleshpur and detained at the police station till the departure of the Chief Minister.

Immediately after landing at Sakleshpur, Mr. Yeddyurappa went by road to the project site to lay the foundation stone. After the ceremony, he addressed presspersons and returned to Sakleshpur to participate in a public function.

Rasta roko

Surprisingly, while the former Sakleshpur MLA H.M. Vishwanath staged a rasta roko on National Highway 48 (after the Chief Minister's convoy had left), the present MLA, H.K. Kumaraswamy, accompanied the Chief Minister to the project site and also participated in the public function.

Both the Chief Minister and Energy Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, who addressed the media separately at the project site, said that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests or MoEF had cleared the project.

However, at the function, Home Minister V.S. Acharya released a booklet brought out by the Karnataka Power Corporation or KPC on the Gundia project, which stated that clearances from the Ministry of Defence or MoD and from the Ministry of Environment and Forests or MoEF were awaited.
New era? Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, Energy Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, and Home Minister V.S. Acharya at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Gundia project at Yettinahole in Hassan district on Sat, May 23, 2009. - The Hindu, Sun, May 24, 2009
New era? Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, Energy Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, and Home Minister V.S. Acharya at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Gundia project at Yettinahole in Hassan district on Saturday, May 23, 2009. -The Hindu, Sun, May 24, 2009
Foundation stone laid for Gundia project amidst tight security -The Hindu, Sun, May 24, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/24/stories/2009052450310100.htm
Foundation stone laid for Gundia Hydel Power Project amidst tight security Karnataka -The Hindu, Sun, May 24, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/24/stories/2009052455520800.htm
As per KPCL's claims has it been indicated that environmental/green clearance will be given by MoEF in June 2009?
'Has the MoEF sent a letter to KPCL permitting it to go ahead with pre-construction works?'
'Are the KPCL's claims that it's satisfactorily completed all formalities involved in getting environmental clearance true?'

The foundation stone for the first unit (200 MW) of the greenfield Gundia Hydel Power Project was laid by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa at Yettinahole in the Western Ghats, about 18 km from Sakleshpur, on Saturday, May 23, 2009 amidst tight security owing to the threat of protests by environmentalists.

With this, Karnataka enters into the era of state-of-the-art technology with respect to implementation of hydel power projects as the Gundia project is said to use modern technology which ensures least submergence of land. It also proposes to optimise power generation with the help of weirs built across a few streams which gain strength only during rainy season.

The first phase of the project, which will be implemented in about four years at a comparatively low cost of Rs. 1,120 crore, is expected to generate 613 million units of power at a rate of Rs. 1.90 a unit.

About 20 environmentalists, who had announced that they would stage a black-flag demonstration against the project, were detained by police when they were entering Sakleshpur town. Twenty activists of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha were also taken into preventive detention by the police. They were all released later.

The environmentalists had on Friday, May 22, 2009 accused the Karnataka State Government of violating the norms by gearing up to commence the project work without getting clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

Responding to this, the Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd. or KPCL, which is implementing the project, clarified that getting environmental clearance was only a formality as it had been indicated that clearance would be given in June 2009.

KPCL Managing Director J.M. Jaamdar told presspersons that the MoEF had sent a letter to the KPCL permitting it to go ahead with "pre-construction" works such as conducting the survey, inviting tenders and so on. He said the KPCL had satisfactorily completed all the formalities involved in getting environmental clearance, including submitting action plan for rehabilitation of affected people. The delay in getting the clearance was only due to the Lok Sabha elections, he said.

The project, which has two generating units with a capacity of 200 MW each, will be built across Gundia river which is a tributary of the Kumaradhara, with its source in the Western Ghats near Kudremukh of Chickmaglaur district and flows through the districts of Hassan and Dakshina Kannada.

The project is proposed to be executed by diverting water from small streams such as Yettinahole and Kerihole to Hongadahalla weir and thereon to Bettakumbri forebay which is to be built across Bettakumbri river.

About 700 hectares of land will be submerged, and 168 families will lose their land, including 43 families, which have to be rehabilitated.

CONTROVERSIAL: The Gundia project site where the first stage of the power unit will come up in Sakleshpur taluk in Hassan district. - The Hindu Saturday, May 23, 2009
CONTROVERSIAL: The Gundia project site where the first stage of the power unit will come up in Sakleshpur taluk in Hassan district.
Opposition to Gundia power project growing; black flag protest on May 23, 2009 The Hindu, Hassan, Saturday, May 23, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/23/stories/2009052355380600.htm 
Malnad Janapara Horata Samithi sent a note to the Chief Minister through fax on Friday, May 22, 2009 appealing to him not to lay the foundation stone as forest and environment clearance is yet to be obtained for the project.

Addressing presspersons here on Friday, samithi president H.A. Kishore Kumar, Socialist leader and editor, Janata Madhyama, R.P. Venkatesh Murthy, environmentalists Hemmige Mohan, Krishna Murthy and R.D. Narayana Swamy, demanded that the Western Ghats Task Force or WGTF Chairman Ananth Hegde Ashisar submit his resignation for his alleged failure to convince the Chief Minister against the proposed project.

He said all these years, Mr. Ashisar fought against the proposed project and the moment he became the task force chairman, he has become silent.

Mr. Kumar said the Gundia forest was the nucleus of the Western Ghats. The State had not taken clearance from Union Ministry for Forest and Environment. The Chief Minister would be violating rules if he lays the foundation stone, he said.

Mr. Kumar said there is a proposal to declare Western Ghats as a world heritage site by UNESCO and the Government had appointed a task force headed by environmentalist Ananth Hegde Ashisar as its chairman.

If work on the project begins, then, more than 6,000 acres of forest area would be destroyed and the Western Ghats would never be declared as a world heritage site.

Mr. Kumar said the Western Ghats had been identified as one among the 19 sites in the world where different species live. The Gundia forest is home to many species, including bear, wild sheep (Kaadu Kuri), Red Squirrel (Kenjalilu), Kabbekku, Kalinga Sarpa, Ceylon frog and tiger. In addition, there are rare medicinal plants. Rivers that flow in the Western Ghats are the tributaries of the Netravati.

Mr. Kumar said the Western Ghats are spread over 1,200 km from Kanyakumari to Maharashtra. In addition, 95 per cent of the rivers in south India take their origin in the Western Ghats. To generate 200 MW of power, 800 hectares of forest is/are being destroyed.

Mr. Kumar said that under the first phase of the project, there was a proposal to build a major dam between the rivers, Hongadahalla and Betta Kumari. Also, there was a plan to build barrages on the rivers, Hongadahalla, Keeri and Yethhinahalla and to join them through a tunnel at Horibetta where power would be generated. In the second phase- Kumaradhara and in third phase the Kadumane stream would be used for producing power. Hence, the samithi is leading an agitation. Mr. Venkatesh Murthy said the project might destroy the elephant corridor. Landslips are common in the Western Ghats and the during rainy season, landslips occur repeatedly on Hassan-Mangalore rail line between Sakleshpur and Kukke Subramanya.

He also feared that naxals may enter the Western Ghats under the garb of workers.

Brewing controversy
: The Gundia hydro-electric project site.
Gundia project will prove disastrous: activists - The Hindu, Hassan, Monday, Oct 20, 2008
http://www.hindu.com/2008/10/20/stories/2008102053000300.htm
774 hectares of reserve forest land will be used for it
It is expected to generate 400 MW of power
Hills, which have medicinal plants, will be destroyed

Chief convener of Vrukshalaksha Andolana Karnataka, Asheesara Anantha Hegde, has cautioned the local people, including farmers, to be alert and study the report on the Gundia power project before agreeing to its establishment. Any mistake on their part would have disastrous consequences, he added.

Speaking to The Hindu on Sunday, Mr. Hegde said the Gundia forest was internationally famous as it had rare species of animals and medicinal plants, and as many as 30 rivers which originated in the Western Ghats.

He said if the project was implemented, it would not only destroy the Western Ghats, but also affect rainfall and drinking water in Hassan district. "The Gundia forest is the nucleus of the Western Ghats. Agitations have been staged against the project for the past three years. People have also urged the Government not to accept the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the project, prepared by the Institute for Catchment Studies and Environment Management (ICSEM), as it has committed mistakes. The report has been prepared in a hurry. There is no consistency in it. The impact of the project on the local people and the environment has not been studied at all," he said.

Mr. Hegde said the project was not meant to be a small hydro-electric generation project. Five dams were to be constructed. This would be one of the biggest projects in the country, when completed. He said the project would require 973 hectares of land, in addition to which 1,450 hectares of forest land that would have to be acquired.

The Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. or KPTCL had not calculated the number of trees to be felled to draw high-tension or HT power lines, he alleged. In Kaiga alone, 80,000 trees had been felled.

Mr. Hegde said that the Western Ghats had been recognised as a biodiversity hot spot, but unfortunately the Government was trying to destroy it by launching such projects. This would also affect tourism in the region, he added.

He said the project, which was expected to generate 400 MW of power, involved the construction of weirs across the Yettinahole, the Kerihole, the Hongadahalla, and dams across the Bettakumari and Hongadahalla rivers.

Water would have to be transferred from these rivers through a tunnel to the Bettakumari balancing reservoir from where it would be carried to the underground powerhouse at Gundia to produce power.

If this was permitted, a huge forest area would have to be destroyed. The movement of heavy vehicles and blasting of rock would further destroy the ecological system. Mr. Hegde said the proposed project would take away 774 hectares of reserve forest land and 107 hectares of revenue land.

He said protected hills such as the Pushpagiri and Brahmagiri, which had medicinal plants, would be affected.

TAKING STOCK: Environmentalists holding a meeting in the Gundia forest area in Sakleshpur taluk. - The Hindu, Wed, Jul 30, 2008
TAKING STOCK: Environmentalists holding a meeting in the Gundia forest area in Sakleshpur taluk. - The Hindu, Wed, Jul 30, 2008
'Do not accept environmental impact report on Gundia power project' - The Hindu Wed, Jul 30, 2008 http://www.hindu.com/2008/07/30/stories/2008073054740600.htm

Environmentalists in the Western Ghats region who have been opposing the proposed Gundia Hydro Electricity Project in Hassan district have urged the Government to give it up in view of the "incalculable damage" it may cause to environment.

The Vriksha Laksha Andolana (VLA), an environmental organisation of the region, which has been spearheading the movement against the project, has urged the Government to drop it as it is not only "unviable" but can be a potential threat to the region as Gundia is situated in the midst of the Western Ghats.

The VLA has urged the Government not to accept the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the project prepared by the Institute for Catchment Studies and Environment Management (ICSEM) as it has consists of "glaring" mistakes and "limitations". The VLA has said that the rIA eport seems to have been prepared hurriedly for the mere purpose of strongly advocating the project.

It has pointed out that the EIA report seems to have been done without undertaking in-depth studies on ecological, social, economic and technical aspects while arriving at the conclusion in favour of the proposed project.

VLA State Convener Ananth Hegde Ashishar told The Hindu here on Tuesday that the meeting proposed to be held at Hongadahall in Sakleshpur taluk of Hassan district on August 6, 2008 to hear public grievances should be put off and the EIA report replete with "mistakes and inaccuracies" should be dropped.

The anti-Gundia Power Project movement has been going on in the Gundia valley for the last three years with the support of several environmental activists, including the Seer of the Sonda Swarnavalli Math of Uttara Kannada.

The proposed project, which is expected to generate 400 mw power, involves the construction of weirs across the Yettinahole river, the Kerihole river, the Hongadahalla river and dams across the Bettakumari river and the Hongadahalla river.

Water is transferred from these rivers through an inter-connecting tunnel to the Bettakumari balancing reservoir from where it is further carried to the underground powerhouse to be located at Gundia to produce power through two units of 200 MW each.

The Karnataka Power Corporation or KPC has submitted a detailed project report for Phase I along with EIA report to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board  or KSPCB for environment clearance. It has submitted the detailed project report to the Central Electricity Authority or CEA and its clearance is awaited.

Meanwhile, a study undertaken by the research cell of the VLA on the project has found that the legal status of 774 hectares of forestland and 107 hectares of grassland is not mentioned in the EIA report as it is not known whether it is reserved forest or revenue land.

The study has pointed out that a safe site (landfill) has not been identified yet. The project is expected to dump about 36 lakh cubic metres of rock muck and there is no comment of its impact on environment. Besides, the Union Government has made it clear that no forestland could be used for such activities.

The project site is covered on all sides by protected areas such as Pushpagiri, Brahmagiri and Kudremukh wildlife sanctuaries. The area sees movement of wild animals and if these corridors are blocked, man-animal conflict and crop damage would increase.

"This aspect cannot be overlooked as mentioned in the EIA report," it said.

It has said that the loss of forest cover under the proposed project is 1.93 per cent in Shikaripur taluk. The EIA report has listed only the economically important timber species leaving aside the non-wood forest products, including medicinal plants.

The VLA has suggested that a floral and faunal study be conducted to assess the extent of the loss of non-wood forest products.

IN THE CENTRE OF CONTROVERSY: Quiet flows the Gundia in Shikaripur taluk of Hassan district notwithstanding the controversy over a proposed hydel project.
Photo - The Hindu, Wed, Jan 03, 2007
Environmental report on Gundia hydel project kicks up a row
http://www.hindu.com/2007/01/03/stories/2007010302450400.htm

The proposed Gundia Hydel Project with an installed capacity of 400 MW to be built by Karnataka Power Corporation (KPC) Ltd. across the Gundia river, a tributary of the Netravati, in the Arsikere taluk of the Hassan district, has kicked up a controversy with environmentalists in the Western Ghats region opposing it strongly.

The environmental activists said the Environment Impact Assessment or EIA Report prepared by the Institute For Catchment Studies and Environmental Management (ICSEM), a Bangalore-based independent agency engaged by the KPC, had failed to address the disastrous impact that the proposed project would cause to the flora and fauna in the Western Ghat belt.

The institute submitted the EIA report to the KPC in October last year (2006).

The Vriksha Laksha Andolana (VLA), an environmental organisation in the Western Ghat region, termed the environment impact assessment or EIA report as "tailor made" as it was prepared only to support the hydel project without looking into serious environment and forest related issues.

Andolana's convenor Ananth Hegde Ashishar said the reports prepared by the institute gave room for suspicion that serious issues had been overlooked. When the institute submitted a similar report on the proposed hydel project near the Jog Falls in 2001 it caused strong resentment from the environmentalists. After the andolan pointed out the mistakes and inconsistencies in the report prepared by the Earnest and Young Company for the power project near Dandeli, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board or KSPCB rejected the report and subsequently the project was cancelled.

Mr. Hegde said the KPC should give up the proposed hydel project across the Gundia taking into consideration serious environmental impact in the Western Ghats belt.

Taking exception to the remark in the report that there were no flora and fauna which were rare and on the verge of extinction and that what existed in this area were commonly found elsewhere, he said the report was far from truth because there were several rare species in and around the proposed project area which would be destroyed if the project was allowed to be implemented.

DOOMED: A pond, near Hongadahalla, which will be submerged by the backwaters of the Gundia project.
- Photo The Hindu, Mon, Dec 11, 2006
Gundia project hits roadblock - The Hindu, Mon, Dec 11, 2006
http://www.hindu.com/2006/12/11/stories/2006121102400400.htm

The Gundia hydroelectric project, which is to be set up in the Western Ghats, one of the two biodiversity hotspots in the country identified by the United Nations, has hit another roadblock.

Environmental groups have filed objections before the Central Electrical Authority (CEA) against the project, which will submerge 687 hectares, of which 431 hectares is forestland.

The Malenadu Janapara Horata Samiti is one of the organisations that have filed objections before the CEA on behalf of five gram panchayats (Hongadahalla, Vanaguru, Hethuru, Ollahalli and Kukke Subrahmanya) that had passed resolutions opposing the project.

H.A. Kishore Kumar, president of the samiti, said Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd. (KPCL) officials were not forthcoming about the project. "We got the detailed project report (DPR) through the Right to Information Act," he said. KPCL has now submitted the DPR to the CEA for concurrence as per the provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003.

Mr. Kumar said the constitutional right of the people living in the area to a decent livelihood would be threatened by the habitat destruction that would take place if the project were to be implemented.

He also said that the project could not be called both a "run-of-the-river scheme" and "peaking power scheme" as the projected annual load factor was 32.4 per cent at the expected energy output level of 1,136 million units. Nor was it a small storage scheme, as the total storage was 21.71 mega cubic metres plus 132.33 mega cubic metres, he said.

The DPR states that the project proposal has received good public cooperation. "This is untrue," said Mr. Kumar. "The local people have been opposing the project as it will upset the sensitive balance of the Western Ghats. Even the religious head of Kukke Subrahmanya has expressed his reservation about the project's implementation," he said.

Mr. Kumar claimed that the DPR did not say anything about the transmission system of the project as the local people prevented KPCL from taking up a detailed site survey.

"If the project is implemented, it will mean loss of both forest land and grasslands. How can the loss of 490 hectares of forest land be justified?" Mr. Kumar asked.

He also said that the project cost estimates did not include rehabilitation and compensation for the loss of agricultural land. "If all costs are taken into account, the cost per kilowatt  or KW of the installed capacity will be high and the project may be economically unviable," he said.

KPCL officials refused to go into the details of the project and told The Hindu that they had not received a copy of the objections. But they said that as all structures except the reservoirs and weirs were underground, no important structures or monuments would be affected. The officials claimed that only 12 villages would be affected if the project were to be implemented.

Preserve the pristine beauty: A waterfall in full spate in the Western Ghats
- Photo The Hindu, Friday, Mar 11, 2005
http://www.hindu.com/yw/2005/03/11/stories/2005031101210300.htm 

Save it

The tropical forests of this region are home to rare species and are classified one of the 19 biodiversity hotspots in the world. The ecosystem of the Western Ghats has been facing danger in the last few decades because of large-scale encroachment, logging and permission and incentives given to forest based industries and development activities like hydel dams.

During a recent trek in the area, locals alleged that the promoters of Kempu Hole hydel project had cut more than 500=50*10 trees and not 50 trees as promised.

They are also opposing Gundia High Head Scheme (GHHS), a 400 MW power project proposed by the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited or KPCL. The people regret that the quantity of rainfall has reduced due to denudation of forests over the years. Incessant rainfall which they were experiencing in the past, is a thing of past.

The villagers of Hongadahalla in Sakleshpur decided to reduce the pressure on the forest cover in Western Ghat area and protest against any hydel project including the GHHS project of KPC.

Conclusion: The severe opposition to the proposed Gundia project and the irrefutable evidence of potential harm to the nature has largely been ignored by the concerned authorities of the Union and state governments.

Gundia hydel power project is a bane and not a boon. It is illegal and its impact is catastrophic.

Unless the people opposing the project on socio-environmental grounds are given adequate opportunity to explain their viewpoints, and unless such views are taken into objective account, the process of green / environmental clearance can at the best be termed as a charade.

The systemic weaknesses in according clearances to such high impact projects are so many and so pervasive that state governments unfortunately seem to be convinced that getting environmental clearance is only a matter of time and that it is just a political game.

The project if implemented would not only destroy the Western Ghats, but also affect rainfall and drinking water in Hassan district.

It'll/It'd cause "incalculable damage" to environment as it is not only "unviable" but can be a potential threat to the region as Gundia is situated in the midst of the Western Ghats.

The benefits to the society from the ecological services of 754 hectares of bio-diversity rich forests alone can be many times more than the meagre benefit from the proposed project.

The constitutional right of the people living in the area to a decent livelihood would be threatened by the habitat destruction that would take place if the project were to be implemented.

A floral and faunal study must please be conducted to assess the extent of the loss of non-wood forest products.

There are many benign options such as replacing the inefficient incandescent lamps by energy efficient CFLs, reducing the T&D (Transimission and Distribution) losses, energy conservation and demand side Management to get more than 400 MW of equivalent power.
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This petition's been addressed to the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, President, Prime Minister or PM, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests or MoEF, Environmental Clearance Board or ECB, Western Ghats Task Force or WGTF, Karnataka Governor or Guv and Karnataka Chief Minister or CM.

Western Ghats
The Western Ghats are spread over 1,200 km from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu to Maharashtra (with Kerala, Karnataka, Goa in between).

In addition, 95 per cent or 95% of the rivers in south India take/have their origin in the Western Ghats. As many as 30 rivers originated in the Western Ghats.

The tropical forests of this region are home to rare species and are classified one of the 19 biodiversity hotspots in the world.

Western Ghats had been identified as one among the 19 sites in the world and one among the two sites in India where different species live. In addition, there are rare medicinal plants.

The ecosystem of the Western Ghats has been facing danger in the last few decades because of large-scale encroachment, logging and permission and incentives given to forest based industries and development activities like hydel or hydro-electric dams.

Rivers that flow in the Western Ghats are the tributaries of the River Netravati.

The quantity of rainfall has reduced due to denudation of forests over the years. In Kaiga (North Kanara or Uttara Kannada district in/of Karnataka) alone, 80,000 trees have been felled since the '80s for the Kaiga nuclear power plant.

It's been alleged that the promoters of Kempu Hole hydel project had cut more than 500=50*10 trees and not 50 trees as promised. Incessant rainfall has unfortunately become a thing of past.

Landslips are common in the Western Ghats and the during rainy season, landslips occur repeatedly on Hassan-Mangalore rail line between Sakleshpur and Kukke Subramanya.

Hydel power generation coming to a standstill in the Karnataka State. Major reservoirs have gone dry in Karnataka as monsoon's playing truant.

Gundia Forest


The Gundia forest is the nucleus of the Western Ghats as it is situated in its midst. The Gundia forest was internationally famous as it'd rare species of animals and medicinal plants, and as many as 30 rivers which originated in the Western Ghats.

It's one of the two biodiversity hotspots in India identified by the United Nations or UN.

Gundia hydel or hydro-electric power project in Karnataka, India
The project site is covered on all sides by protected areas such as Pushpagiri, Brahmagiri and Kudremukh wildlife sanctuaries.

The area sees movement of wild animals and if these corridors are blocked, man-animal conflict and crop damage would increase.

The ecologically controversial, doomed and disastrous Gundia hydel project will or is going to be built across Gundia River, a tributary of the Kumaradhara, with its source in the Western Ghats near Kudremukh of Chikmaglaur/Chikmagalore district in Karnataka.

The proposed Gundia Hydel Project with an installed capacity of 400 MW is to be built by Karnataka Power Corporation (KPC) Ltd. across the Gundia river, a tributary of the Netravati, in the Arsikere taluk of the Hassan district.

The Gundia river flows through the districts of Hassan and Dakshina Kannada piercing through thick evergreen forests.

The project was not meant to be a small hydro-electric generation project as five dams are/were to be constructed. This would be one of the biggest projects in India, when completed.

The project which has two units with a capacity of 200 MW each is being implemented in Sakleshpur taluk of Hassan district.

The project, which has two generating units with a capacity of 200 MW each, will be built across Gundia river which is a tributary of the Kumaradhara, with its source in the Western Ghats near Kudremukh of Chickmaglaur district and flows through the districts of Hassan and Dakshina Kannada.

The project is proposed to be executed by diverting water from small streams such as Yettinahole and Kerihole to Hongadahalla weir and thereon to Bettakumbri forebay which is to be built across Bettakumbri river.

The proposed project, which is expected to generate 400 MW of power, involves the construction of weirs across the Yettinahole river, the Kerihole river, the Hongadahalla river, and dams across the Bettakumari river and the Hongadahalla river.

Water would've to be transferred from these rivers through an inter-connecting tunnel to the Bettakumari balancing reservoir from where it's / it'd be further carried to the underground powerhouse (to be located) at Gundia to produce power through two units of 200 MW each.

Ecological disaster
The Karnataka state in India seems to be sitting mutely on an ecological disaster. The state government is going ahead with the Gundia hydel power project despite green concerns.

In fact, 456 hectares of forestland will be razed in phases starting November 2009 to make way for the project. The pre-construction work has started.

To generate 200*2=400 MW of power, about 800 hectares of forest is being destroyed.

First Phase/Stage
The first stage of the power unit will come up in Sakleshpur taluk in Hassan district.

The foundation stone for the first unit (200 MW) of the greenfield Gundia Hydel Power Project was laid by Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa at Yettinahole in the Western Ghats, about 18 km from Sakleshpur, on Saturday, May 23, 2009 amidst tight police security owing to the threat of protests by environmentalists.

Under the first phase of the project, there's a proposal to build a major dam between the rivers, Hongadahalla and Betta Kumari.

Also, there was a plan to build barrages on the rivers, Hongadahalla, Kerihole/Keerihole and Yethhinahalla and to join them through an inter-connecting tunnel at Horibetta where power would be generated.

Second Phase
In the second phase- Kumaradhara would be used for producing power.

Third Phase
In third phase the Kadumane stream would be used for producing power.


Mandatory green/environmental clearance not taken from MoEF, GoI
The Karnataka Chief Minister or CM B S Yeddyurappa, has unfortunately laid the foundation stone for Gundia hydel power project in Hassan district on Sat, May 23, 2009 without obtaining the mandatory environmental / green clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests or MoEF, Government of India or GoI.

It unfortunately seems like the that mandatory environmental / green clearances are being taken for granted by the state governments in India without going through the processes as laid down by the law(s) by considering these processes as mere/routine formalities.

Destruction of 100s of thick pristine forest of the Western Ghats
Involves destruction of hundreds or 100s of acres of thick pristine forests of the Western Ghats - one of the world's premiere biodiversity hotspots.

It'll/It'd lead to drowning of almost 1,900 acres of dense forests in the 'already endangered Western Ghats. This is something that Karnataka, India and the world can/could ill afford."

Gundia hydel project is not worth the ecological cost
States shouldn't increase their power generation capacities at the cost of ecological security / securities.

Responsibilities of the MoEF
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), GoI is entrusted with the responsibility of protecting Indian forests, rivers and environment so that a sustainable and healthy lifestyle is achievable for the people.

Protecting the ecologically precious and highly sensitive natural resources such as Western Ghats and Himalayas from damaging hydel projects is one amongst a few important mandates for the MoEF.

In this background, the ability of the MoEF to prevent the harm to the already devastated Western Ghats will be severely tested by the 2x200 MW Gundia hydel project being proposed by the Karnataka Power Corporation or KPC in Hassan district.

Least beneficial project
It's been/being alleged that this project's proposal to utilise its installed capacity for only 32 per cent or 32% of the time is probably one of the least beneficial hydel projects to our society because of the huge socio-environmental costs associated.

It's also been/being alleged that this project could not be called both a "run-of-the-river scheme" and "peaking power scheme" as the projected annual load factor was 32.4 per cent or 32.4% at the expected energy output level of 1,136 million units.

Nor was it a small storage scheme, as the total storage was 21.71 mega cubic metres plus 132.33 mega cubic metres.

1,900 hectares of forestland will be submerged.

Bio-diversity hotspots in the world
There are many endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna in the Western Ghats and it is one of the few bio-diversity rich hotspots in the world.

No cost & benefit analysis in an objective way
It's been/being alleged that no analysis of various costs and benefits of the project have been carried out in an objective way to determine whether the project is in the overall interest of the society.

Because of the irrational set of procedural issues needed to get clearances it seems like this project has/had no objective analysis of pros and cons to the society.

So, there's no scope for the public to know how far the benefits outweigh the costs in Gundia project proposal.

Global warming
At a time when global warming has become an existential issue for the humankind and for a densely populated country like India, the proposed destruction of thick rainfall forests of Western Ghats will only exacerbate global warming.

The destruction of Western Ghats will not only cause decimation of biodiversity, but also accelerate impact of global warming.

National Forest Policy target of 33% forest and tree cover unachievable
Additionally, the National Forest Policy target of 33 per cent or 33% forest and tree cover can never be achieved if we continue to destroy the natural forests of highest ecological value.

Irrefutable evidence of potential harm to the nature ignored
The severe opposition to the proposed Gundia project and the irrefutable evidence of potential harm to the nature has largely been ignored by the concerned authorities of the Union and state governments.

Getting Environmental/Green clearance a matter of time and just a political game!
The systemic weaknesses in according clearances to such high impact projects are so many and so pervasive that state governments seem to be convinced that getting environmental clearance is only a matter of time and that it is just a political game.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report's alleged technical irregularities
It's/It's being/been alleged that the Institute For Catchment Studies and Environmental Management (ICSEM), a Bangalore-based independent agency engaged by the KPC, has/had failed to address the disastrous impact that the proposed project would cause to the flora and fauna in the Western Ghat belt.

The ICSEM's submitted the EIA report to the KPC in October 2006.

It's being/been alleged that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report prepared by the ICSEM for Gundia project is inconsistent and contains many misrepresentations and false claims, but the approval process does not allow these to be brought to the notice of the ministry because only the project proponent is allowed to make presentation.

The EIA report allegedly consists of "glaring" mistakes, "inaccuracies" and "limitations".

It's being/been alleged that very often the minutes of the public hearing contain gross misrepresentations and generally fail to record the issues objectively, basically to favour the project proponent.

It allegedly means ICSEM's committed mistakes and the EIA report's been prepared in a hurry without studying the impact of the project on the environment for the mere purpose of strongly advocating the project.

It's being/been alleged that the EIA report is/was "tailor made" as it was prepared only to support the hydel project without looking into serious environment and forest related issues.

No in-depth studies on ecological, social, economic and technical aspects seem to have been done or undertaken before arriving at the conclusion in favour of the proposed project in the EIA report.

It's being/been alleged that the EIA report's listed only the economically important timber species leaving aside the non-wood forest products, including medicinal plants.

The EIA report allegedly says/claims that there were no flora and fauna which were rare and on the verge of extinction and that what existed in this area were commonly found elsewhere.

This alleged particular remark in EIA report was far from truth because there are/were several rare species in and around the proposed project area which would be destroyed if the project was allowed to be implemented.

It's being/been alleged that the reports prepared by the institute gave room for suspicion that serious issues had been overlooked.

When the institute submitted a similar report on the proposed hydel project near the Jog Falls in 2001 it caused strong resentment from the environmentalists.

Green / Environmental clearance
Unless the people opposing the project on socio-environmental grounds are given adequate opportunity to explain their viewpoints, and unless such views are taken into objective account, the process of green / environmental clearance can at the best be termed as a charade.

Alternatives to get 400 MW not discussed
No other alternative to get 400 MW or its equivalent's been discussed in the Detailed Project Report or DPR. In such a case how does the project proponent demonstrate to the public that it is the best option available?

Karnataka State Government allegedly violates MoEF order
According to Wildlife Conservation Society, the project area falls within 9.5 km radius from the boundary of the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary.

The/This project violates the order of ministry of environment and forests which restricts such activities 10 km from the protected area boundary as it is an eco-sensitive zone.

Violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980
According to the Act, it is mandatory to get permission for diversion of more than 40 hectares of forest land. In this project, the government has admitted the need to clear 700 hectares.

Karnataka State Meteorology Department not consulted by KPC/ECB
Interestingly, weather being a significant aspect, the State Meteorology/MET Department has not been consulted either by the Karnataka Power Corporation or KPC or by the Environmental Clearance Board or ECB.

State MET director A Muthuchami has said that though Indian Meteorological Department is a member of the ECB in all states, in Karnataka MET officials were not consulted by the board.

"Eversince I took over, ECB has not consulted us for any project. So all projects that have been approved by the ECB in the last one and half year do not have the consent of the weather department in the state."

He said: "Apart from anticipated landslide and inducing seismic events, there is possibility of the project having overall impact on the hydro cycle in the area, resulting in gradual decrease in rainfall."

As the check dams will be constructed across the streams, downstream areas in the region are likely to be affected from water shortage due to decrease in stream and groundwater table, especially during summer.

Chairman of Western Ghats Task force Ananth Hegde Ashisar (an environmentalist) has said he'd have opposed the Gundia hydel project if he'd not been holding the post of chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force or WGTF. He claimed that he was unaware of the details of the project.

He's said that he'd seek detailed reports to study the feasibility of the project and take appropriate steps to recommend to the Government on whether to go ahead with the project.

Hassan district in-charge Minister Aravind Limbavali was not present at the foundation-stone laying ceremony for the Gundia hydel power project.

He did not visit the project site even when there were agitations against the project nor he discussed the matter with environmentalists.

Contradictory claims regarding clearances from MoEF and MoD
Both the Chief Minister and Energy Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, who addressed the media separately at the project site, said that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests or MoEF had cleared the project.

However, at the function, Home Minister V.S. Acharya released a booklet brought out by the Karnataka Power Corporation or KPC on the Gundia project, which stated that clearances from the Ministry of Defence or MoD and from the Ministry of Environment and Forests or MoEF were awaited.

As per KPCL's claims has it been indicated that environmental/green clearance will be given by MoEF in June 2009?
'Has the MoEF sent a letter to KPCL permitting it to go ahead with pre-construction works?'
'Are the KPCL's claims that it's satisfactorily completed all formalities involved in getting environmental clearance true?'

There's a proposal to declare Western Ghats as a world heritage site by UNESCO and the Government had appointed a Western Ghats Task Force or WGTF headed by environmentalist Ananth Hegde Ashisar as its chairman.

WGTF Chairman Ananth Hegde Ashisar should resign/quit
Western Ghats Task Force or WGTF Chairman Ananth Hegde Ashisar should submit his resignation for his alleged failure to convince the Chief Minister against the proposed project.

All these years, Mr. Ashisar fought against the proposed project and the moment he became the task force chairman, he's become silent.

It's being alleged that the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. or KPTCL has/had not calculated the number of trees to be felled to draw high-tension or HT power lines.

The movement of heavy vehicles and blasting of rock would further destroy the ecological system.

The protected hills such as the Pushpagiri and Brahmagiri, which had medicinal plants, would be affected / destroyed.

Safe Site (landfill) seems to remain unidentified
It's been/being alleged that a safe site (landfill) has not been identified yet. The project is expected to dump about 36 lakh cubic metres of rock muck and there is no comment of its impact on environment. Besides, the Union Government has made it clear that no forestland could be used for such activities.

False/Untrue Detailed Project Report or DPR
The DPR allegedly states that the project proposal has received good public cooperation which is untrue as local people have been opposing the project as it will upset the sensitive balance of the Western Ghats.

The DPR allegedly did/does not say anything about the transmission system of the project as the local people prevented KPCL from taking up a detailed site survey.

It's being/been alleged that the project cost estimates did/does not include rehabilitation and compensation for the loss of agricultural land.

Project seems economically unviable
It's being/been alleged that if all costs are taken into account, the cost per kilowatt or KW of the installed capacity will be high and the project may be economically unviable.

Conclusion: The severe opposition to the proposed Gundia project and the irrefutable evidence of potential harm to the nature has largely been ignored by the concerned authorities of the Union and state governments.

Gundia hydel power project is a bane and not a boon. It is illegal and its impact is catastrophic.

Unless the people opposing the project on socio-environmental grounds are given adequate opportunity to explain their viewpoints, and unless such views are taken into objective account, the process of green / environmental clearance can at the best be termed as a charade.

The systemic weaknesses in according clearances to such high impact projects are so many and so pervasive that state governments unfortunately seem to be convinced that getting environmental clearance is only a matter of time and that it is just a political game.

The project if implemented would not only destroy the Western Ghats, but also affect rainfall and drinking water in Hassan district.

It'll/It'd cause "incalculable damage" to environment as it is not only "unviable" but can be a potential threat to the region as Gundia is situated in the midst of the Western Ghats.

The benefits to the society from the ecological services of 754 hectares of bio-diversity rich forests alone can be many times more than the meagre benefit from the proposed project.

The constitutional right of the people living in the area to a decent livelihood would be threatened by the habitat destruction that would take place if the project were to be implemented.

A floral and faunal study must please be conducted to assess the extent of the loss of non-wood forest products.

There are many benign options such as replacing the inefficient incandescent lamps by energy efficient CFLs, reducing the T&D (Transimission and Distribution) losses, energy conservation and demand side Management to get more than 400 MW of equivalent power.
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This petition's been addressed to the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, President, Prime Minister or PM, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests or MoEF, Environmental Clearance Board or ECB, Western Ghats Task Force or WGTF, Karnataka Governor or Guv and Karnataka Chief Minister or CM.

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