Differences in state Congress leadership over the controversial Athirappally hydel project seems to have surfaced with former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy maintaining that a consensus has to be reached for implementing the project. Statement of Chandy virtually oppose the stand of Opposition leader in the assembly and former KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala, who demanded the CPI(M)-led LDF government to drop the 163 MW proposed project at the down stream of Chalakudy river in Thrissur district. "There are people who oppose and favour the project.
A consensus has to be arrived to implement the project" Chandy told reporters when asked about the government's move to review the project. Chandy said the environment protection was also essential. "A discussion has to be held and move forward after arriving at a consensus", Chandy said. The previous UDF government headed by Chandy had written to the Centre urging it to implement the project, holding that the project when commissioned would benefit the state. However, Chennithala down played Chandy's statement and said there was no dispute in the UDF over the project. "What Chandy and I said was same", he said. Chandy had opposed government move to implement the project unilaterally, Chennithala said. "Decision to oppose the project was taken in the UDF after discussion', he said. Earlier, Chennithala had also made it clear that the UDF would not allow the project at any cost as it was harmful for the environment. The project came to focus recently after power minister M M Mani had informed the assembly that preliminary works on the project had begun. Earlier, the government had stated that the project would be implemented only through consensus. The reports that Kerala State Electricity Board had put up a transformer in the project area 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 and a strong opponent of the project, had said that just because a transformer had been set up in the project area did not mean that the government was going ahead with 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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