Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Jul 03, 2004
Industry & Economy
Kerala Govt to go ahead with Pathrakadavu project
Thiruvananthapuram , July 2
THE State Government intends to go ahead with the Pathrakadavu hydroelectric project, which has been in the eye of a storm with environmentalists expressing fears about the likely adverse implications on the exquisite Silent Valley ecosystem in its vicinity and the endemic rain forests.
The Government's resolve to pursue the Rs 247-crore project designed to generate 70 MW of power was made known in the State Assembly on Friday by the Electricity Minister, Mr Kadavoor Sivadasan.
Replying to a calling attention motion, the Minister said the project would satisfy all ecological norms and spare the rare tropical rain forests of the Silent Valley any damage.
Various environmentalist groupings have mounted a high-pitched campaign, highlighting the threat to the fragile ecosystem and have been pressing the State Government for a rethink on the matter.
However, according to the Minister, Pathrakadavu is at best a run-of-the-river scheme and, when implemented, would submerge no more than 4.1 hectares of forestland.
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had issued the first stage clearance for the project. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) will take up implementation once the Centre issued its final clearance. A detailed report would be submitted to the Centre in September later this year for final clearance.
Opposition walkout: Meanwhile, the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) staged a walkout to press its demand for complete withdrawal of electronic consumption meters being installed by the Kerala State Electricity Board. The Electricity Minister's assurance on replacing faulty meters would not convince the protesting members who would settle for nothing less than their complete withdrawal.
The Opposition said it was not convinced with the Minister's assertion that the KSEB was equipped to check the meters and replace the faulty ones. The public utility had neither the manpower nor the wherewithal to conduct the "free" check of each meter, it contended
Attestation process: The Minister for Non-Resident Keralite Affairs (Norka), Mr M.M. Hassan, told the House that, from now on, the State Government would carry out the process of attesting the educational testimonials of job seekers bound for the United Arab Emirates.
The Centre had extended its approval for such an arrangement, the Minister said in reply to a Calling Attention motion.
As soon as orders to the effect were officially notified, the State Government would proceed to assign select officials from the Education Department for the job, who would then operate from three attestation centres to be opened in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.
This would go a long way in reducing the lead time required for issue of attested certificates for those seeking careers abroad, the Minister said.
The Chief Minister, Mr A.K. Antony, would take up with the External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh, the issue of setting up consulate offices of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the State when the latter arrives here on July 10 for a visit.
The Minister of State, Mr E. Ahmed, had extended all possible assistance in the matter, which, if settled once and for all, would speed up the process of clearing papers for the outbound job seeker.
The State Government had also demanded that Centre authorise the States to invoke the provisions of the Emigration Act to deal sternly with illegal recruitment rackets, Mr Hassan said.
Under the existing rules, only the Protector of Emigrants had the power to proceed against and bring to book bogus recruiters. Empowering the States to act decisively would help deal effectively with the problem, the Minister added.
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