Biodiversity, Ecology and Socio-Economic Aspects of Gundia River Basin in the context of proposed Mega Hydro Electric Power Project
Section 6 - Ecosystem People’s Perspective

Public consultation was conducted at Hongadahalla community Hall on 31st August 2010.  Major apprehensions expressed by ecosystem people are:

  1. The proposed project will affect the livelihood of people as alteration in hydrological regime will impair the water security of the region and hence the food security.
  2. The proposed GHEP is ecologically unsound. The project proponents does not take into account the services and goods provided by the ecosystem while valuing the resources
  3. Mr. Sandeep, Science teacher at Hongadahalla Government High school emphasized the biodiversity importance of the region. PBR (People’s Biodiversity Register) prepared under his supervision is provided in Annexure I, further illustrates the ecosystem values and its importance to the local people and also people in Karnataka.
  4. EIA reports prepared earlier by KPCL commissioned agencies do not portray the ground conditions in right perspective. Views are biased and skewed, probably prepared under pressure to suite the project proponents.
  5. Protocol to be followed for Category A projects has not been followed (especially public hearing involving all stakeholders). People residing in interior forests are not aware of either the project or likely implications (especially people at Yettinhalla, Mallali, etc.)
  6. Alteration in hydrological regime will affect cardamom and coffee plantations and agricultural crops.
  7. The impacts due to tunnels – operation stage as well as post implementation impacts have not been detailed. Vegetation on tunnels (created by Railways earlier) show stunted growth as the roots are cut off from the water source.
  8. Management plan for debris (of tunneling) has not been provided.
  9. Damages due to power transmission lines and roads have not been provided. Vast tracts of forests are likely to be removed due to transmission network.
  10. Creation of roads in the interior region will alter the structural stability of the region
  11. Roads in the interior forests will aid illegal logging which will aid in further erosion of land cover and dependent biodiversity. This is evident already from Kempholé mini power station in the region.
  12. KPCL the implementer of GHEP has poor track record in rehabilitation of affected families and also post project period especially in the restoration of ecosystems degraded during the implementation of the project. This is evident in all power projects in Karnataka.  Instances of un-electrified villages in Sharavathi river basin, enhanced siltation and consequent sedimentation of the reservoirs substantiates KPCL’s attitude towards local people.
  13.  Fragmentation of forests will increase human animal conflicts in the region.
  14.  The project will disrupt the elephant, tiger movement paths which will make the animal to stray into villages in the region.
  15. Large scale land cover changes involving conversion of forest land to other land uses will alter the hydro regime in this region. Streams that are perennial currently will become seasonal apart from drastic reduction in catchment yield. Also, diversion of stream connecting to Kumaradhara will deprive localities close to the Subrahmanya temple and the temple a perennial source of water. Kumaradhara River will lose the water source which would affect the religious sentiments of the people in India.

    The Kukke Subrahmanya Temple, dedicated to Lord Subrahmanya, is one of the pristine pilgrimage centers of India, located amidst the hills of Western Ghats in a small rural village of Subrahmanya. It is situated on the banks of ‘Kumaradhara River’ which originates in ‘Kumara Parvatha’ and flows westwards towards the Arabian Sea. God Subrahmanya is worshipped for his divine power as a Snake and this temple is famous for ‘Sarpa Dosha’ pujas. According to Hindu Mythology Lord Kumaraswamy killed the demon rulers Taraka, Shoorapadmasura and others in a war; and the Lord washed his Shakti Ayudha (Axe in the shape of a bayonet) in this river. Hence forth the name Kumaradhara was given to the river. The pilgrims who visit the Temple have to cross the Kumaradhara River and take a Holy bath in it before they go to the temple for darshan.

  16. A large number of people living in this area are dependent upon cardamom and coffee plantations. These are the economic crops of this region and give high returns. The livelihood of a large number of people depends upon these plantations. The construction of this project will also affect these crops and hence, affecting the economy of the people dependent on it.

Appendix provided next details the perspectives of ecosystem people. Appendix

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