Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TBGRI bid to push ahead with mini-hydel project

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It is a clear case of attempt to bypass the law. The Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (TBGRI) here coming under the Chief Minister’s portfolio of Science and Technology, is attempting to go ahead with a mini-hydel project without getting the necessary sanction from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The first attempt to get the Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan to launch a Rs. 3.7-crore micro-hydel project at the TBGRI on December 6 was postponed citing the reason of Chief Minister’s illness. 

While everyone heaved a sigh of relief, the TBGRI had now once again scheduled the stone-laying programme, again by the Chief Minister, for January 29 on the TBGRI campus. Invitation cards and press releases have been distributed despite opposition from various departments, including the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment ( KSCSTE), the apex body of scientific institutions in the State.

It has been reliably learnt that the Chief Minister had been strongly advised against the project as well as against the inaugural function. So have been Forest Minister Binoy Viswam, KSCSTE executive vice-president C T S Nair and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests T M Manoharan.

The proposed project involves construction of a check dam across the Chittar river in the reserve forest area which had been leased out to the TBGRI. This would involve the submergence of nearly two hectares of riverbed. As per the Forest Conservation Act 1980, the project needs to get prior approval from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. 

However, the TBGRI, on leased land from the Forest, had not obtained this approval.

The TBGRI had neither obtained sanction from the Finance Department to commence the project nor had it received any budgetary allocation. What is even more surprising is the fact that not even the Detailed Project Report had been prepared. Unless there is continuous water flow for 365 days, the efficiency quoted (nearly 60 percent) is highly inflated one for a min- hydel project. It may be recalled that the most efficient small schemes in the state have an efficiency of less than 50 percent.

The widely circulated note on the hydel project said that TBGRI was eligible for obtaining investment subsidy at the rate of Rs 25000/kw from the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The subsidies would bring down the total cost of the project to Rs 307.5 lakh and the cost per KW to Rs 1.23 lakh. At this rate, the cost of 1000 KW or 1 MW is Rs 12.3 crore, which is almost double that of KSEB rate.

While the KSCSTE had made a provision for part of the project cost in the 2011-12 plan proposal, work could not be started before the budget is approved. It has been learnt that the KSCSTE was not even consulted before finalising the stone-laying programme for January 29.

The much-hyped stone-laying function is supposed to be attended by Forest Minister Binoy Viswom, A Sampath MP, J Arundhathi MLA, PCCF T M Manoharan, KSCSTE executive vice-president C T S Nair, Energy Management Centre director M.K Dharesan Unnithan, Peringamala grama panchayat president P Valsala and ward member Geetha Priji.

Source: TBGRI bid to push ahead with mini-hydel project | | | Indian Express

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