Activists oppose mini-hydel project in prime jumbo habitat (Chamrajanagar District, India)


Meera Bhardwaj, The New Indian Express

Date Published

BENGALURU: Wildlife activists and experts are opposing the reconsideration of the 24.75 MW Shivanasamudra (Basaveshwara) mini-hydel project in the proposed Eco-Sensitive Zone of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Kollegal, Chamrajanagar district.  

If this hydel project by Sivasamudram Power Ltd is allowed to come up in the elephant habitat with its corridor, it will lead to further escalation in human-elephant conflicts (HEC) in an area which is already witnessing severe conflicts. Further, the Elephant Task Force constituted by the High Court had raised objections about its locations, they added.

Activist Santosh said, “Based on a series of factual reports submitted by various officials, the project was rejected by Karnataka State Board for Wildlife in September 2015.” 

He added, “The frequent change in the name of the mini-hydel project and the company’s name is a ploy to create confusion and push the project. The project was earlier named as Gaganachukki RBC hydel scheme, then changed to Basaveshwara mini-hydel project and now renamed as Sivasamudram project. How can the same (rejected) project be reconsidered again?” 

While rejecting this project, the Wildlife Board had observed, “There are already nine projects around the place and this project is within the proposed ESZ and elephant home range and corridor. The proposed project is in an area frequented by elephants. Hence, it would be detrimental to wildlife conservation.”

Also, the objections raised by Project Elephant directorate from 2011-14 has to be seriously considered. Senior forest officials said, “The Malvalli Range in Mandya division is the proposed project site. Here, the increase in the HEC is mainly due to the accumulated disturbances in the last decade in Dhangur Reserve forest due to several mini hydro electric projects and Doddamakali eco-tourism camp.

The severe disturbances has driven the elephant herds into human settlements. Now one sees 5-6 elephants in a group even up to 25 km from the forest boundary raiding crops frequently. Once elephants were found to have strayed to Mysuru city while another time to Malavalli town.”

Project Elephant

The project elephant officials note that the existing mini-hydel schemes on either side of Cauvery and Shimsa rivers in Mandya and Kollegal divisions has already caused serious disturbances in the elephant home range areas in Malvalli and Kollegal ranges.

The stretch from Gaganchukki and Barachukki falls downstream up to Sangam, a prime habitat for pachyderms, is facing serious threats from existing hydel schemes.