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No nod for Athirappilly project, Edakochi stadium: Ramesh

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Union Minister for Environment and Forests said his ministry would not grant approval to the in Thrissur district and International cricket stadium at Edakochi near here.

Addressing the media after a high-level meeting in Thiruvananthapuram today, he said though the dialogue between the state and the Centre would continue on the Athirappilly project, the  was a closed chapter.

He said of the nine infrastructure  projects proposed by the Kerala government, sanctions would be granted to seven. The minister today also visited the project site of Vizhinjam International seaport, near Thiruvananthapuram.

He said the environmental impact study of the seaport would be completed in a year. Meanwhile, the government could go ahead with procedures such as construction of roads, inviting tenders and  identifying strategic partners.

The state had sought clearance from the environment and forests ministry for its various proposed projects like Vizhinjam International seaport, hydroelectric projects including Athirappilly, Pooyamkutty and Achankovil,  cricket stadium at Edakochi, Sabarimala pilgrim centre development project and seacoast development initiatives.

Jairam said the Athirappilly project was against the interests of the nation and for Pooyamkutty, he suggested the government approach the Centre after getting clearance from the state forest department.

The Athirappilly project,  which was mooted years ago, drew a lot of criticism as environmentalists fear it would would endanger the existence of a number of birds and animals and would impact the ecology.

The Jaladhara Jalasaksharatha Mission (JJM)  had pointed out that the proposed project would reduce the flow of water in Periyar river, which is the main source of drinking water and irrigation in districts like Ernakulam and Thrissur. The minister said the environmental hazards of the project should be studied in detail.

Cricket Stadium
The High Court, on February 7, had directed the (KCA) to go ahead with the construction of the stadium only after getting clearance from the Coastal Regulatory Zone Management Authority, constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The direction was issued by a division bench comprising Chief Justice J Chelameswar and Justice PR Ramachadnran on a petition complaining that the construction of the stadium would destroy the mangroves in the area.

The KCA gave an undertaking to the court that without getting clearance from all authorities they would not proceed with the construction. The minister said the proposed site was under the purview of   (CRZ)- 1, hence construction of  any kind would not be allowed. The preparatory works done at the site were in violation of  the Coastal Protection Act.

He also announced Rs 10 crore for Vembanad lake and Rs 5 crore for Shashthamkotta lake projects.

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