Kerala Electricity Minister M.M.Mani has said that the state government would go ahead with the execution of the proposed Athirappilli hydel project come what may. He pooh-poohed criticism against the project. The announcement by the concerned minister comes amidst controversy raging over the proposed project which according to its opponents will upset the state's ecological balance and pose several environmental issues.
Mani said on Monday that those opposing the project were doing it out of sheer ignorance. If it poses environmental issues, they will be addressed by the government by taking precautionary measures, he added. Opposing projects in the name of environment shall not be allowed. The state is badly in need of electricity and therefore projects cannot be dropped one after the other. Crores of rupees are spent on importing electricity, he stated.
The Electricity Minister was highly critical of the CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran's postures. At stake is the image of the government when a coalition partner indulges in criticism against the programmes and projects of the state, the Minister argued.
Significantly, even as the Electricity Minister takes such an adamant stand, opinion is divided even in his party CPM on going ahead with Athirappilli project. Veteran CPM leader and former Chief Minister V.S.Achuthanandan had openly come out against the project. He had stated that it was never the programme of the CPM led government. So also the second largest ruling partner CPI is opposed to the project. CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran had declared that Athirappilli project was never on the LDF agenda. As the ruling LDF, opinions differ in the Congress which heads the opposition UDF. Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Ommen Chandy is for a consensus on the question, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala is totally opposed to the project. KPCC chief M.M.Hassan and his predecessor V.M.Sudheeran have also expressed their strong reservations about the project. Indian Union Muslim League, the second largest UDF partner also vetoed the project. BJP, in the meanwhile, alleged that both LDF and UDF were resorting to double speak on Athirappilli project. This, BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan said, was to cheat the public. BJP is of the firm view that on no account the project be allowed.