Callous Karnataka govt gives nod for 400 KV high tension transmission line in Kodagu
The permission given by the Congress government in Karnataka to go ahead with the erection of 400 KV high-tension transmission line across Kodagu (Coorg) through private coffee plantations to supply power to Kerala from Koodankulam nuclear power plant, will lead to a major environmental disaster in the Western Ghats.
According to reports, in a letter written to the the Kodagu Deputy Commissioner, Karnataka Forest, Environment and Ecology Principal Secretary S Sivashailam has stated: “If the electricity wire, that passes through 55 km area in Kodagu is laid above 15 metres above the ground, it would not harm the elephants. Therefore, the electricity wire laying work can be re-started.” Normally electricity wires are laid 9 metres above the ground.
Further, the letter had clarified that the High Court in its judgment on October 8, 2013, had imposed a condition that the electricity wire should be in such a height that elephants should not be able to reach it. Hence, laying wire at 15 metres height would abide by the court directive.
The proposed high-tension wires would pass through Lingapur, Maldare, Thithimathi, Kanur, Nalkeri, Kutta and surrounding areas, which are habitats of elephants. Several trees will have to be cut for laying the high-tension wire, which will adversely affect the animal habitat, according to environmentalists.
Col C. P. Muthanna (Retd), President of the Coorg Wildlife Society, has opposed the project to draw the transmission line through Kodagu. “”We are deeply concerned because this alignment would have serious negative effects on Kodagu. The proposed route of the transmission line is part of an elephant corridor. Any interference in these corridors would hamper the natural movement of elephant herds and would result in increased man-elephant conflict,”” Col. Muthanna warned.
He argued that the solution was to route the transmission line through the Nagarhole National Park and could follow the alignment of existing fire-lanes or vehicle lanes, so as to minimize loss of tree cover. “”It may also be constructed along the existing 11 KV power-line that enters Nagarahole Nation Park at Honmare Katte in HD Kote, runs up to DB Kuppe and enters Kerala near Bavli Road””, Col Muthanna pointed out.
The shortest distance from Mysore to Khozikode would be through the Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarahole).
The Power Grid Corporation of India has completed the laying of wires from Mysore to Lingapur (Mysore-Kodagu border) on the one side, and from Kozhikode to Manandavadi (Kerala-Kodagu border) on another side. As the work faced severe opposition from environmentalists in Kodagu, the work was halted for some time.
If the project is implemented, it would provide 520 MW power to Karnataka and 260 MW to Kerala from Koodankulam nuclear power plant.
www.coorgtourisminfo.com editor P.T. Bopanna writes: It is not too late for the authorities to reconsider the project in view of the environmental impact it could have on the fragile Western Ghats, one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world.
Moreover, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, there is a growing debate on the future of nuclear power.
The project could create problems for small coffee planters in Kodagu, as the transmission lines would pass through their estates. Moreover, environmentalists have suggested alternate routes for the transmission line and this could be acted upon.
As it is there is widespread straying of elephants to coffee plantations. With the new transmission lines passing through the elephant corridor, the situation could turn worse.
On the political front, the Congress party would be further alienated from the people of Kodagu who are already supporting the BJP, despite the fact that the saffron brigade had neglected the district during their regime.