Nation Other News 30 Apr 2019 A nasty work in prog ...

A nasty work in progress

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Apr 30, 2019, 1:23 am IST
Updated Apr 30, 2019, 1:23 am IST
The callous actions of a govt-owned utility have almost destroyed a 200 year-old precious forest patch.
The spot in the forest where KSEBL deposited slurry.
 The spot in the forest where KSEBL deposited slurry.

Kochi: A discussion on the developmental needs of an ambitious society and the environmental cost it would ask for is unlikely to produce a unanimous resolution; it would be a give and take on most occasions. There will be many who would work behind the scene to protect their interests. They will be unknown to many, would be there to share the fruits of growth but would never make a sacrifice.

The failure of Meena Menon, 49, daughter of Raveendranath Menon who chose to protect a small forest on the 1.98 acres he had instead of realising its real estate value was that she expected her noble cause would found an echo in the corridors of power. But that never was the case. In fact, the Kerala State Electricity Board Limited (KSEBL) has been mocking at her efforts to protect that small patch of forest.

 

The latest communication from the utility says it is “committed distribute quality power to the people even while protecting Santhivanam!” The Board insists that it made every effort to minimise the damage to Santhivanam and that it was because of the stand of Ms Menon that it took to the original alignment. It has not only failed to limit the damage to the environment during construction but caused irrepairable damage by depositing the slurry there.

The KSEBL claim that Ms Menon refused to accept its realignment plan and hence it was forced to go ahead with the original plan fails logic. “If the KSEBL was so sure that the second proposal was less harmful, then why did they not go ahead with it? I gave consent to neither of the alignment any way,” asks Ms Menon.

 

The Board had said it would cut less than a dozen trees in its efforts to lessen the damage. “But they have given me a list of 48 trees which will have to be cut,” said Ms Menon. “Why do they say both? Who do they try to fool?”

The Board says it has permitted buildings up to three storey to come up under the transmission line. “I am not here to build building in this forest,” retorts Ms Menon. “If I were to do so, I would have turned a millionaire by now.  Even the High Court, in its judgment rejecting my writ petition, mentioned that I appeared to be more concerned in protecting the plants.”   

 

A visit to the site would make anyone wonder why the KSEBL chose to take a deviation while fixing the alignment of the transmission line at the disputed spot. A map made by people working with Ms Menon with the help of Google Maps shows that the alignment was changed when it reached Santhivanam. “It was only to help the owner of another plot that the alignment was changed,” says Harish Vasudevan, lawyer and environmental activist.

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