With speculation rife that the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala was going ahead with the controversial 163 MW Athirappilly hydel project, the opposition Congress today demanded that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan make the government's stand clear on it. Opposition leader in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala said that the government should make its stand clear on the project. "We will not allow the project at any cost as it is harmful for the environment," he said. Power minister M M Mani had informed the assembly yesterday that preliminary works on the project had begun. Earlier, the government had stated that the project would be implemented only through consensus. As reports emerged today that Kerala State Electricity Board had put up a transformer in the project area, it fuelled speculations that the government was going ahead with the project despite protests from environmentalists. Kanam Rajendran, State secretary of CPI, a partner of the ruling LDF, said just because a transformer had been set up in the project area did not mean that the government was going ahead with the project. "Since the last 35 years it is being said that the project has begun", he said. An official in power minister's office said some preliminary work had been taken up as an office and staff are already stationed in the project area. However, he made it clear that no work with regard to implementation of the project had started. Meanwhile, AIYF, the youth wing of CPI, took out a march to the project area in Thrissur, protesting against any move to start the project. The project was mooted years ago, but ran into trouble and was kept in abeyance by successive governments due to protests from local people and environmentalists.
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