Bengaluru: Last month, the State Board for Wildlife granted permission to carry out pre-construction works and conduct Environmental Impact Appraisal for Sharavathy pumped storage project (8x250 MW project) in Shivamogga and Uttar Kannada districts by Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd.
The project site near Gerusoppa village is an underground power house, where 2,000 MW hydropower unit will be installed and the balance storage water from Talkalale dam will be used. During off peak demand for electricity, surplus electricity will be used to pump water from lower Gerusoppa reservoir to upper Talakalale reservoir.
Former forest officer B.K Singh has termed the project disastrous. “As the state is not power surplus, the proposition is not viable. The project is said to be utilising 150 hectare of forest land, which is estimated to go up to 200 hectares once the works proceed. The project will cause fragmentation and more human imprint in such pristine forests. At the UN Convention on Climate Change, the Prime Minster has talked of International Solar Alliance and has committed to complete 175 GW solar power in the country by 2022, which will be further scaled up to 450 GW. Why should we cut down forests for 2000 MW of hydroelectric power, when Karnataka has vast potential of solar power generation,” Mr Singh asked.
Sharavathy Wildlife Sanctuary, home for lion-tailed macaque and a corridor for elephants, is less than 4 km from the project site.
"The researchers of Indian Institute of Science have brought out that we have lost nearly 30% of forests in the past 40 years in Uttar Kannada district. We are also not giving any heed to Kasturai Rangan’s report, where such areas of Western Ghats are no-go areas. Any attempt to destroy the area is likely to bring misery for the people. Let Yediyurappa dispensation be clear about this," he said.