Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today said the decision of Congress in Kerala to oppose the Athirapally hydel power project was a befitting tribute to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who fought for nature conservation.
Ramesh, whose book titled "Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature" was released at a function here, said the crowning achievement of Gandhi as a politico-naturalist was her determined role in saving the ecologically sensitive Silent Valley rain forest in the southern state.
Without Gandhi at the helm in New Delhi, the Silent Valley would not have been preserved the way it has been, he said.
"Senior leaders A K Antony and Ramesh Chennithala have jointly said that the party will oppose the Athirapally hydel project and the state does not want it.. I think that decision is the greatest tribute to Indira Gandhi," Ramesh said.
Her personal drive and intervention had made several significant legislations including Forest Conservation Act, Water Pollution and Air Pollution Control Acts a reality.
Environment issues have to be fundamentally a political subject, the leader said adding that Gandhi, through Silent Valley, made environment a political topic.
Releasing the book, A K Antony said, Indira Gandhi had taken a strong stand to conserve Silent Valley, overcoming the pressure from politicians and lobbyists.
Following her trail, the state should take a strong stand against Athirapally hydel project, about which a debate is underway.
"Lets take a pledge together that we do not want Athirapally project causing environmental damage.. The present Kerala is unable to withstand another such project," he said.
Echoing his sentiments, Leader of Opposition in Kerala assembly Ramesh Chennithala also said Congress would not support the hydel project.
Athirapally hydel project, proposed at the downstream of Chalakkudy river in Thrissur district, had run into trouble following stiff resistance from locals and environmental activists.
The project came to lime light recently after the CPI(M)-led LDF government explored possibility of implementing the project after arriving consensus with all stakeholders.
KPCC president M M Hassan, poet Sugathakumari, CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran were among those present during the occasion.
"Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature" showcases how Indira Gandhi led India to the path of conservation and made economic development a priority.
The Malayalam version of the book is expected to be released soon.