PM’s aide blocking Athirapally power project: Kerala minister

Thiruvananthapuram, May 12: A day before the results of Kerala assembly polls, outgoing Electricity Minister A.K.Balan Thursday alleged the state’s Athirapally hydro-electric power project had not taken off due to its opposition by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s principal secretary T.K.A. Nair.

Speaking at a send-off accorded to him by the employees of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), Balan claimed that he was told this by union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh.

‘It was Minister for Environment Jairam Ramesh who had told me about this and it is Nair who is the stumbling block for this mega project,’ said Balan.

‘It was because of the involvement of Nair that this project’s environmental clearance was cancelled and Nair’s opposition to this project is there in the file also. The prime minister’s office is duty bound to give an answer why this project is in limbo,’ he said.

To come up across the Chalakudy river in Thrissur district, the project had first got clearance from the central government in 1998 but then was embroiled in a legal battle over environmental issues. Clearance was again received in 2005 following a fresh environment impact study.

But then the Kerala High Court intervened and asked KSEB for a fresh clearance, which was obtained in 2007. However in January last year, the central government had asked the state why the environmental permission should not be cancelled.